eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: The Da Silva Moore Case Has Class (Certification, That Is)


As noted in an article written by Mark Hamblett in Law Technology News, Judge Andrew Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has granted conditional class certification in the Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group case.

In this case, women employees of the advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe and its U.S. subsidiary, MSL, have accused their employer of company-wide discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and a practice of keeping women at entry-level positions with few opportunities for promotion.

Judge Carter concluded that “Plaintiffs have met their burden by making a modest factual showing to demonstrate that they and potential plaintiffs together were victims of a common policy or plan that violated the law. They submit sufficient information that because of a common pay scale, they were paid wages lower than the wages paid to men for the performance of substantially equal work. The information also reveals that Plaintiffs had similar responsibilities as other professionals with the same title. Defendants may disagree with Plaintiffs' contentions, but the Court cannot hold Plaintiffs to a higher standard simply because it is an EPA action rather an action brought under the FLSA.”

“Courts have conditionally certified classes where the plaintiffs have different job functions,” Judge Carter noted, indicating that “[p]laintiffs have to make a mere showing that they are similarly situated to themselves and the potential opt-in members and Plaintiffs here have accomplished their goal.”

This is just the latest development in this test case for the use of computer-assisted coding to search electronic documents for responsive discovery. On February 24, Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an opinion making it likely the first case to accept the use of computer-assisted review of electronically stored information (“ESI”) for this case.  However, on March 13, District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. granted plaintiffs’ request to submit additional briefing on their February 22 objections to the ruling.  In that briefing (filed on March 26), the plaintiffs claimed that the protocol approved for predictive coding “risks failing to capture a staggering 65% of the relevant documents in this case” and questioned Judge Peck’s relationship with defense counsel and with the selected vendor for the case, Recommind.

Then, on April 5, Judge Peck issued an order in response to Plaintiffs’ letter requesting his recusal, directing plaintiffs to indicate whether they would file a formal motion for recusal or ask the Court to consider the letter as the motion.  On April 13, (Friday the 13th, that is), the plaintiffs did just that, by formally requesting the recusal of Judge Peck (the defendants issued a response in opposition on April 30).  But, on April 25, Judge Carter issued an opinion and order in the case, upholding Judge Peck’s opinion approving computer-assisted review.

Not done, the plaintiffs filed an objection on May 9 to Judge Peck's rejection of their request to stay discovery pending the resolution of outstanding motions and objections (including the recusal motion, which has yet to be ruled on.  Then, on May 14, Judge Peck issued a stay, stopping defendant MSLGroup's production of electronically stored information.  Finally, on June 15, Judge Peck, in a 56 page opinion and order, denied the plaintiffs’ motion for recusal

So, what do you think?  What will happen in this case next?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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