eDiscovery Daily Blog
eDiscovery Year in Review: eDiscovery Case Law, Part 1
However, before we look ahead to the coming year, it’s worthwhile to look back at what transpired in 2011 to see what trends began to emerge last year. And, there is no better way to do that than to review key cases during the year. eDiscovery Daily has published 65 posts related to eDiscovery case decisions and activities over the past year, covering 50 unique cases! Needless to say, a lot happened in the courtroom that impacted the eDiscovery world.
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!
EDISCOVERY COST REIMBURSEMENT
One of the emerging trends for 2011 was the growing number of cases where the prevailing party was awarded reimbursement of eDiscovery costs. Maybe that will change the “preserve and produce everything” mentality of some attorneys? Here are four cases where this issue was addressed:
Sue Me and Lose? Pay My Costs. In a ruling that may give some plaintiffs' lawyers pause, a federal judge in Pittsburgh has ruled that the winning defendants in an antitrust case are entitled to reimbursement of more than $367,000 in eDiscovery costs.
Plaintiff Responsible for Taxation of eDiscovery Costs. It appears that making plaintiffs responsible for eDiscovery costs when they lose is becoming a trend. For this case, the Pennsylvania District Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion to eliminate or reduce many of the costs at issue related to electronic discovery but did disallow or reduce some costs, including those incurred for the convenience of counsel.
Another Losing Plaintiff Taxed for eDiscovery Costs. As noted previously, prevailing defendants are becoming increasingly successful in obtaining awards against plaintiffs for reimbursement of eDiscovery costs. In this case, a California District Court granted the defendants summary judgment on non-infringement and dismissed their counterclaims. The judgment included eDiscovery costs as valid taxed costs against the plaintiff, based on Rule 54(d) which creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to the prevailing party.
Award for Database Costs Reversed Due to Cost Sharing Agreement. In this case, Ricoh looked to have the district court’s award of costs to Synopsys reversed for the parties’ use of Stratify for the production of email. While the appellate court decided that the district court properly decided that costs related to the database could be recovered pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4), it nonetheless reversed the lower court’s award due to the parties' agreement to split the costs.
FORM OF PRODUCTION
There were several cases related to the form and format of produced ESI, with a number of key issues being debated in the courtroom. Here are eight cases where production format decisions were made.
Responses to FOIA Requests Must Be Searchable. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that federal agencies must turn over documents that include "metadata", which allows them to be searched and indexed. Indicating that "common sense dictates" that the handling of FOIA requests should be informed by "the spirit if not the letter" of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Judge Scheindlin indicated the government offered "a lame excuse" for delivering non-searchable documents.
Never Mind! Judge Scheindlin Withdraws FOIA Requests Opinion. Four months later, Judge Scheindlin withdrew that opinion.
Facebook Did Not Deduce That They Must Produce. In this case, United States Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd of the Northern District of California compelled Facebook to produce ESI that was previously produced in a converted, non-searchable format and further ordered Facebook not to use a third-party vendor's online production software to merely “provide access” to it. The court’s order granting the plaintiff’s Motion To Compel Production addressed the importance of ESI Protocols, the requirement to produce ESI in native formats, and production of documents versus providing access to them.
Downloading Confidential Information Leads to Motion to Compel Production. The North Dakota District Court has recently decided in favor of a motion to compel production of electronic evidence, requiring imaging of computer hard drives, in a case involving the possible electronic theft of trade secrets.
Are Attachments Part of the Email Or Are They Separate? A Special Master recently investigated the legal standard concerning whether or not attachments must be produced with the emails to which they were attached in discovery proceedings, and determined that there is no certain answer to be found in case law precedent.
Court Says Lack of eDiscovery Rules for Criminal Cases is a Crime. A New York district court recently ordered the United States Government to reproduce thousands of pages of electronic discovery materials in a criminal case involving the distribution of cocaine. In this case, the Government produced thousands of pages of electronic documents and a number of audio recordings, none of which were text searchable. The court ultimately decided that the onus of producing searchable materials for eDiscovery fell on the Government itself.
Produced ESI Doesn’t Need to be Categorized, Even When Voluminous. In this case, the defendants sought to compel re-production by the Government of ESI in categorized batches relating to transactions with certain characteristics. Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York denied the defendants’ motion.
New York Supreme Court Requires Production of Software to Review Files. In this case, the petitioner requested records from the Department of Taxation and Finance in New York that were responsive to petitioner's request under Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for records related to sales tax audit. The petitioner then moved to compel production of the Department’s Audit Framework Extension software program in order to install it on his computer and view the electronic files. The petitioner's motion was denied, not once, but twice. Would a final appeal result in compelling production of the software?
As companies “go global” and more data is stored “in the cloud”, discoverability of ESI within international jurisdictions is becoming increasingly in dispute. Here are two cases with global ramifications:
Bankruptcy Court Denies Foreign Access to Debtor's Emails. A Southern District of New York United States Bankruptcy Court denied access to a debtor's emails on July 22, in a foreign request involving international eDiscovery. In this case, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court determined that to permit a relief request from a German insolvency administrator would directly contravene the "fundamental principles" of U.S. public policy by undermining the right to privacy in electronic communications and the right of parties involved in any court order to receive notice of such proceedings and of their involvement.
U.S. Court Rules on ECPA Protection of Emails in the Cloud. An October 3 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals offers new clarity in defining and protecting the eDiscovery rights of non-U.S. nationals using U.S. services online, by ruling that emails stored on servers located within the U.S. are protected by national laws on ESI.
Tune in tomorrow for more key cases of 2011!
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.
CloudNine empowers legal, information technology, and business professionals with eDiscovery automation software and professional services that simplify litigation, investigations, and audits for law firms and corporations.