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.
In Giuliani v. Springfield Township, et al., Pennsylvania District Judge Thomas N. O’Neill, Jr. denied the plaintiffs' motion for spoliation sanctions, finding that the duty to preserve began when the case was filed and finding that “plaintiffs have not shown that defendants had any ill motive or bad intent in failing to retain the documents which plaintiffs seek”.
Friday, we wrote about tracking file counts from collection to production, the concept of expanded file counts, and the categorization of files during processing. Today, let’s walk through a scenario to show how the files collected are accounted for during the discovery process.
A while back, we wrote about Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) in the eDiscovery process. Both are important in improving the quality of work product and making the eDiscovery process more defensible overall. With regard to QC, an overall QC mechanism is tracking of document counts through the discovery process, especially from collection to production, to identify how every collected file was handled and why each non-produced document was not produced.
In Malibu Media, LLC v. Michael Harrison, Indiana District Judge William T. Lawrence denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, upholding the magistrate judge’s ruling which found an adverse inference instruction for destroying a hard drive with potentially responsive data on it to be not warranted, and ruled that “it will be for a jury to decide” if such a sanction is appropriate.
In Lynn M. Johnson v. BAE Systems, Inc. et. al., District of Columbia District Judge Robert L. Wilkins granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to the plaintiff's claims for negligence, battery, and defamation, but chose to “impose lesser, but nonetheless severe, sanctions” in the form of an adverse inference instruction for her remaining claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In Malibu Media, LLC v. Tashiro, Indiana Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore issued a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions, recommending that the Court grant the plaintiff's motion against the defendants for spoliation of evidence and perjury and enter default judgment against the defendants.
In Electrified Discounters, Inc. v. MI Technologies, Inc. et al., Connecticut Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez granted the defendant’s motion to compel the plaintiff 's responses to discovery and ordered the plaintiff to “image its sources of electronically stored information (‘ESI’), including its hard drives and QuickBook files”.
In HMS Holdings Corp. v. Arendt, et al., the New York Supreme Court in Albany County ordered a mandatory adverse inference instruction so that the trier of fact could “draw the strongest possible adverse inference from defendants' bad faith and intentional destruction, deletion and failure to produce relevant evidence”. The court also awarded attorney fees, and forwarded a copy of the order regarding Defendant Lange to the New York State Committee on Professional Standards for attorneys.
In Compass Bank v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, California Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo ruled that the plaintiff “wilfully engaged in the spoliation of relevant evidence”, and “has demonstrated a pattern of recalcitrant behavior during discovery in this litigation” and awarded an adverse inference jury instruction sanction against the plaintiff as well as defendant’s attorney fees and costs.
While the Electronic Discovery Reference Model from EDRM has become the standard model for the workflow of the process for handling electronically stored information (ESI) in discovery, it might be helpful to think about the EDRM model backwards, whether you’re the producing party or the receiving party.
In Clear-View Technologies, Inc., v. Rasnick et al, California Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal sanctioned the defendants $212,320 and also granted a permissive adverse jury instruction that allows the presumption that the defendants' spoliated documents due to a series of “transgressions” by the defendants and their prior counsel.
In Crews v. Avco Corp., a Washington Court of Appeals upheld a “death penalty order” against the defendant for discovery violations, including the failure to produce relevant information, but remanded for amendment of the final judgment of over $17.28 million to reflect any offsets for settlements with other defendants.
In Gladue v. Saint Francis Medical Center, Missouri District Judge Carol E. Jackson denied the plaintiff's motion for evidentiary and monetary sanctions due to spoliation of evidence, finding that the defendant did not have a duty to preserve emails deleted as part of routine IT operations, had diligently attempted to recover deleted emails and that the plaintiff failed to show that any of the unrecovered emails were relevant to her claims.
In Grady v. Brodersen, Colorado Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang granted the plaintiff’s motion for sanctions against the defendant in part for failing to produce a computer that the defendant ultimately acknowledged that he discarded, but denied the plaintiff’s request for a default judgment sanction, opting for the less severe adverse inference instruction sanction.
In Harrell v. Pathmark et al., Pennsylvania District Judge Gene E. K. Pratter, after a hearing to consider whether to draw an adverse inverse instruction due to the defendant’s possible spoliation of video evidence, determined that “a spoliation inference would not be appropriate here”. Finding that the plaintiff had presented no evidence that the defendant had constructive notice of a dangerous condition resulting in her slip and fall, Judge Pratter also granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
In Lunkenheimer Co. v. Tyco Flow Control Pacific Party Ltd., Ohio District Judge Timothy S. Black ruled that the duty to preserve for the defendant (an Australian company with offices and facilities only in Australia) did not begin until the complaint was filed in US courts in December 2011, denying the assertion of the intervenor/counter defendant that the duty to preserve arose in 2002.
Today’s thought leader is Alon Israely. Alon is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Business Intelligence Associates, Inc. (BIA) and currently leads the Strategic Partner Program at BIA. Alon has over eighteen years of experience in a variety of advanced computing-related technologies and has consulted with law firms and corporations on a variety of technology issues, including expert witness services related to computer forensics, digital evidence management and data security. Alon is an attorney and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Today’s thought leader is Brad Jenkins of CloudNine™. Brad has over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, as well as 15 years leading customer focused companies in the litigation support arena. Brad has authored several articles on document management and litigation support issues, and has appeared as a speaker before national audiences on document management practices and solutions. He’s also my boss!
When a case is filed, several activities must be completed within a short period of time (often as soon as the first seven to ten days after filing) to enable you to assess the scope of the case, where the key electronically stored information (ESI) is located and whether to proceed with the case or attempt to settle with opposing counsel. Here are several of the key early activities that can assist in deciding whether to litigate or settle the case.
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