eDiscovery Daily Blog

Cases I Will Be Covering Today During Litigation Support Day: eDiscovery Case Law

It’s a rare two-post day for us at eDiscovery Daily.  As we always do, we’re covering the notable sessions to check out at ILTACON today and that post is here.  But I’m also speaking at Litigation Support Day today in Session One (9:00 AM – 10:30 AM) on Legal Trends, discussing the most interesting case law decisions for 2019 so far with my good friend, David Horrigan!  If you’re attending that session, no need to take copious notes – the cases that we plan to discuss are also referenced and linked below so that you can check them out.  Hope to see y’all there!

Social Media Discovery and Judicial “Friending”: Here are a couple of cases that have interesting ramifications on the social media front.  Are pictures where you are “tagged” discoverable?  Should judges accept “friend” requests from litigants when a motion is pending?  See below.

  • In Vasquez-Santos v. Mathew, 8210NIndex 158793/13 (N.Y. App. Div. Jan. 24, 2019), the New York Appellate Division, First Department panel “unanimously reversed” an order by the Supreme Court, New York County last June that denied the defendant’s motion to compel access by a third-party data mining company to plaintiff’s devices, email accounts, and social media accounts, so as to obtain photographs and other evidence of plaintiff engaging in physical activities and granted the defendant’s motion.
  • In the case In Re the Paternity of B.J.M., Appeal No. 2017AP2132 (Wis. App. Feb. 20, 2019), the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, concluding that “the circuit court’s undisclosed ESM connection with a current litigant in this case {by accepting a Facebook “friend” request from the litigant} created a great risk of actual bias, resulting in the appearance of partiality”, reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings before a different judge.

Fifth Amendment and Passwords: Are mobile device passwords protected by the Fifth Amendment?  See below.

  • In Commonwealth v. Jones, SJC-12564 (Mass. Mar. 6, 2019), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reversed a lower court judge’s denial of the Commonwealth’s renewed Gelfgatt motion (where the act of entering the password would not amount to self-incrimination because the defendant’s knowledge of the password was already known to the Commonwealth, and was therefore a “foregone conclusion” under the Fifth Amendment and art. 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights), and the court remanded the case to the Superior Court for entry of an order compelling the defendant to enter the password into the cell phone at issue in the case.

Discovery vs. Dismissal Motions: Should discovery be stayed until a motion to dismiss is decided?  See below.

Case Strategy vs. Sanctions: Would a party actually object to having a claim against it dismissed to keep alive the possibility of sanctions against the opposing party?  See below.

Mobile Device Discovery and Sanctions: How often are we seeing cases involving spoliation of mobile device data?  And, how difficult is it to obtain significant sanctions in those cases?  See below.

  • In DriveTime Car Sales Company, LLC v. Pettigrew, No.: 2:17-cv-371 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 18, 2019), Judge George C. Smith granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff’s motion for spoliation sanctions against defendant Pauley Motor, denying the plaintiff’s request for an adverse inference sanction by ruling that “DriveTime has not sufficiently demonstrated that Pauley Motor acted with the requisite intent” when Bruce Pauley failed to take reasonable steps to preserve text messages when he switched to a different phone. Judge Smith did “order curative measures under Rule 37(e)(1)”, allowing the plaintiff to “introduce evidence at trial, if it wishes, of the litigation hold letter and Pauley Motor’s subsequent failure to preserve the text messages.”
  • In NuVasive, Inc. v. Kormanis, No. 1:18CV282 (M.D.N.C. Mar. 13, 2019), North Carolina Magistrate Judge L. Patrick Auld recommended that, “because the record supports but does not compel a ‘finding that [Defendant Kormanis] acted with the intent to deprive [Plaintiff] of the [lost text messages’] use in the litigation, the Court submit that issue to the ‘jury, [with] the [C]ourt’s instruction[s] mak[ing] clear that the jury may infer from the loss of the [text messages] that [they were] unfavorable to [Defendant Kormanis] only if the jury first finds that [he] acted with the intent to deprive [Plaintiff] of the[ir] use in the litigation’”.
  • In Paisley Park Enter., Inc. v. Boxill, No. 17-cv-1212 (WMW/TNL), (D. Minn. Mar. 5, 2019), Minnesota Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung granted in part the plaintiffs’ Motion for Sanctions Due to Spoliation of Evidence, ordering the Rogue Music Alliance (“RMA”) Defendants to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees and costs, that Plaintiffs incurred as a result of the RMA Defendants’ “misconduct”, and also ordered the RMA Defendants to pay into the Court a fine of $10,000, but chose to defer consideration of adverse inference instruction sanctions to a later date, closer to trial.
  • In Legaltech® News, David Horrigan discusses the case Commonwealth v. Fowler, a criminal prosecution, and a related civil action, Little v. Fowler, that stemmed from sexual assault allegations against the actor Kevin Spacey (whose legal name is Kevin Spacey Fowler) and turned on the availability of a mobile device.

Bonus Case! In Marshall v. Brown’s IA, LLC, No. 2588 EDA 2017 (Pa. Super. Mar. 27, 2019), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, ruling that the trial court “abused its discretion in refusing the charge” of an adverse inference sanction against the defendant for failing to preserve several hours of video related to a slip and fall accident, vacated the judgment issued by the jury within the trial court for the defendant and remanded the case for a new trial.

So, what do you think?  Are you attending ILTACON this year?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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