eDiscovery Daily Blog
2015 eDiscovery Case Law Year in Review, Part 3
As we noted yesterday and Tuesday, eDiscovery Daily published 89 posts related to eDiscovery case decisions and activities over the past year, covering 72 unique cases! Yesterday, we looked back at cases related to disputes about discovery, eDiscovery cost reimbursement and issues related to privilege and confidentiality assertions. Today, let’s take a look back at cases related to cooperation issues, social media and mobile phone discovery, technology assisted review and the first part of the cases relating to sanctions and spoliation.
We grouped those cases into common subject themes and will review them over the next few posts. Perhaps you missed some of these? Now is your chance to catch up!
Why can’t we all just get along? There were several instances where parties couldn’t agree and had to kick issues up to the court for resolution, here are four such cases:
Judge Shows Her Disgust via “Order on One Millionth Discovery Dispute”: In Herron v. Fannie Mae, et al., DC District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer issued an order titled “Order on One Millionth Discovery Dispute” where she decided that “[c]ontrary to its usual practice, the Court will rule immediately, in writing” on the latest discovery disputes between the plaintiff and defendant.
Court’s “New and Simpler Approach to Discovery” Identifies Search Terms for Plaintiff to Use: In Armstrong Pump, Inc. v. Hartman, New York Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott granted in part the defendant’s motion to compel discovery responses and fashioned a “new and simpler approach” to discovery, identifying thirteen search terms/phrases for the plaintiff to use when searching its document collection.
Court Agrees to Allow Defendant to Use Search Terms to Identify ESI to Preserve: In You v. Japan, California District Judge William Alsup granted the defendant’s motion to limit preservation of articles to those that contain one of several relevant search terms, as long as the defendant’s proposal was amended to include one additional term requested by the plaintiffs.
Court Orders Defendant to Supplement Data Used for Statistical Sampling: In United States ex rel Guardiola v. Renown Health, Nevada Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke agreed with the relator’s contention that the data used to finalize the relator’s proposed statistical sampling plan was incomplete due to how data was identified within one of two billing systems used by the defendant. As a result, she ordered the defendant to “EXPEDITIOUSLY PRODUCE” the additional data (and, yes, she used all caps).
Requests for social media data in litigation continue, so here are three cases related to requests for social media data:
Court Rejects Defendants Motion Seeking Limitless Access to Plaintiff’s Facebook Account: In the class action In re Milo’s Kitchen Dog Treats Consolidated Cases, Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly denied the defendants’ Motion to Compel Unredacted Facebook Data File and Production of Username and Password, disagreeing that the discovery of one highly relevant Facebook entry justified the defendants to be “somehow entitled to limitless access to her Facebook account”. Judge Kelly did order the plaintiff to produce previously produced redacted Facebook pages to the Court unredacted so that an in camera inspection could be conducted to confirm that the redacted information was truly privileged.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash Subpoena of Text Messages Granted by Court: In Burdette v. Panola County, Mississippi Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander granted the plaintiff’s Motion to Quash Subpoena where the defendant subpoenaed the plaintiff’s text messages and call log records from his mobile provider.
When Claiming Workplace Injury, Facebook Posts Aren’t Handy, Man: In the case In Newill v. Campbell Transp. Co., Pennsylvania Senior District Judge Terrence F. McVerry ruled on the plaintiff’s motion in limine on miscellaneous matters by allowing the defendant to introduce Facebook posts into evidence that related to the plaintiff’s physical capabilities, but not those that related to his employability.
TECHNOLOGY ASSISTED REVIEW
Believe it or not, we only covered one technology assisted review case last year, at least officially. Though, we did at least cover it twice. Here is the case:
Judge Peck Wades Back into the TAR Pits with ‘Da Silva Moore Revisited’: In Rio Tinto Plc v. Vale S.A., New York Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck approved the proposed protocol for technology assisted review (TAR) presented by the parties, but made it clear to note that “the Court’s approval ‘does not mean. . . that the exact ESI protocol approved here will be appropriate in all [or any] future cases that utilize [TAR].’” Later on, Judge Peck assigned a well-respected industry thought leader as special master to the case.
SPOLIATION / SANCTIONS
I’ll bet that you won’t be surprised that, once again, the topic with the largest number of case law decisions related to eDiscovery are those related to sanctions and spoliation issues. Of the 72 cases we covered this past year, 39 percent of them (28 total cases) related to sanctions and spoliation issues. Sometimes requests for sanctions are granted, sometimes they’re not. Here are the first ten cases:
Appeals Court Upholds Default Judgment Sanctions for Defendant’s Multiple Discovery Violations: In Long Bay Management Co., Inc. et. al. v. HAESE, LLC et. al., the Appeals Court of Massachusetts found that the default judge had not abused her discretion in ordering sanctions and assessing damages and ordered that the plaintiffs could submit a petition for appellate attorneys’ fees incurred in responding to the appeal.
Court Grants Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Plaintiff’s Use of Spoliation Evidence: In West v. Talton, Georgia District Judge C. Ashley Royal granted the defendants’ Motion in Limine to exclude all evidence and argument regarding spoliation, reserving its ruling on the remaining issues in the Motion in Limine.
Not Preserving Texts Results in Adverse Inference Sanctions for Plaintiff: In NuVasive, Inc. v. Madsen Med., Inc., California Chief District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz granted the defendants’ motion for adverse inference sanctions for failure to preserve text messages from four custodial employees that were key to the case.
Court States that Duty to Meet and Confer is Not an “Empty Formality”, Denies Request for Sanctions: In Whitesell Corporation v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc. et. al., Georgia District Judge J. Randal Hall denied the plaintiff’s motion for sanctions against the defendant for identifying a deponent that (according to the plaintiff) had no particularized information regarding the defendant’s efforts to produce documents, stating that he was “unimpressed” by the plaintiff’s effort to confer on the matter and stating that the “duty-to-confer is not an empty formality”.
Despite Failure to Implement a Litigation Hold, Defendant Escapes Sanctions: In Flanders v. Dzugan et. al., despite the fact that the defendant failed to implement a litigation hold, Pennsylvania District Judge Nora Barry Fischer denied the plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions alleging the defendants failed to preserve evidence relevant to the case, finding that the plaintiff “cannot show any evidence was actually lost or destroyed”, “cannot show that if evidence was lost or destroyed, it would have been beneficial to his case” and “[n]or can Plaintiff show bad faith”.
Court Denies Motion for Sanctions Against Veterinary Hospital for Spoliation of ESI: In Grove City Veterinary Service, LLC et. al. v. Charter Practices International, LLC, Oregon Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta concluded that the plaintiffs had not met their burden of showing they are entitled to sanctions for spoliation of evidence by deleting one of the veterinarian’s archived work emails.
Defendant Gets Summary Judgment, Not Dismissal, Due to Plaintiff’s Wiping of Hard Drive: In Watkins v. Infosys, Washington District Judge John C. Coughenour denied the defendant’s Motion for the Sanction of Dismissal but granted the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment against the plaintiff for spoliation of data due to her use of “Disk Wiping” software to delete ESI.
Court Rules that State Agency is Not Responsible for Emails Deleted via the Retention Policy of Another State Agency: In Wandering Dago, Inc. v. N.Y. State Office of Gen. Servs., New York Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece denied the plaintiff’s request for sanctions, stating that “that neither the individual Defendants nor their Attorney had a duty to preserve” the emails of the Deputy Secretary of Gaming and Racing to the President of the New York Racing Authority (“NYRA”).
Apparently, in Discovery, Delta is Not Ready When You Are and It Has Cost Them Millions: A few years ago, we covered a case law decision in the Delta/Air Tran Baggage Fee Antitrust Litigation, where Delta was ordered to pay plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs for eDiscovery issues in that litigation. Apparently, Delta’s difficulties in this case have continued, as they have been ordered this week to pay over $2.7 million in sanctions for failing to turn over ESI, to go along with more than $4.7 million in sanctions for earlier discovery violations.
Court Denies Request for Sanctions for Routine Deletion of Files of Departed Employees: In Charvat et. al. v. Valente et. al., Illinois Magistrate Judge Mary M. Rowland denied the plaintiff’s request for spoliation sanctions for the defendant’s admitted destruction of computer files belonging to two departed employees, finding that the plaintiff did not provide any evidence that the defendant acted in bad faith.
Tomorrow, we will cover the remaining cases relating to sanctions and spoliation. Stay tuned!
Want to take a look at cases we covered the previous four years? Here they are:
- 2014: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- 2013: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- 2012: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- 2011: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
So, what do you think? Did you miss any of these? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.
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