Showing 5 posts in Form of Production.

A Summary of the Upcoming FRCP Amendments

Earlier this year, proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were submitted to the United States Supreme Court for review following a years long process that began in 2010.  The proposed amendments will become effective on December 1, 2015 barring any action by either the Supreme Court or Congress to modify them.

Circuit splits and a lack of uniform standards have plagued eDiscovery for some time. The proposed amendments attempt to bring uniformity to the body of eDiscovery law that has been developing since the early 2000s.  The proposed amendments also seek to address litigants’ concerns that eDiscovery has in the past been used as a weapon to force settlement upon those who cannot afford to engage in the process.  To that end the proposed amendments address proportionality and the scope of discovery.  

These amendments will most likely eventually be adopted by various States as well.  For a full discussion by the Advisory Committee on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and a list of all of the Committee’s proposed amendments, see the March 2014 and September 2014 Reports of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, available here [http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/records-and-archives-rules-committees/committee-reports]. More ›

Dealing with High Risk Data

When people think of high risk data, most think of Personal Health Information and Personally Identifiable Information as it relates to HIPAA and the health care industry, but Steve Shebest's very informative article "High Risk Data: Have a Plan!" explains how high risk data can also be found in the financial, commercial, transportation, industrial, and other highly regulated sectors.

The cost of a breach, which is more likely to occur during the discovery process, can be high and can take the form of not only monetary costs, but also indirect costs such as reputational loss and diminished goodwill among customers and the public.  In order to mitigate the risk of data breach, it is critical to understand the three weak points of the discovery process (at collection, at data transfer, and once in the hands of third parties such as vendors and partners) and proactively implement a plan, both internally and with business partners, to minimize the risks.

Some of the strategies suggested are performing targeted collections to either eliminate the need to collect high risk data or at least reduce and identify it (in order to subject it to a different workflow), making sure data is encrypted during transfer, and having in-depth discussions with partners and vendors that address any potential weak points in the way they process, host, review, and produce the data.  All of these strategies should be used proactively, at the outset of an engagement, rather than waiting for a breach to occur.

The ultimate lesson is that in the midst of sometimes frantic eDiscovery, counsel cannot lose sight of the importance of data transfer security, having a strong contract with a vendor outlining security duties, and an awareness of what is actually being harvested from the client.

DE District Court Test Drives Race Tires America, Curbs Taxation of eDiscovery Costs

Posted In Cost Shifting, Federal Rules, Form of Production

As readers of this blog likely know, there's a mini-trend in eDiscovery to recover vendor costs in Federal courts as "taxable" under 28 U.S.C. §1920(4). That section allows courts to require losing parties to reimburse prevailing parties for "fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case." There recently have been several cases around the country where prevailing parties have successfully recovered costs this way. (See footnote 2 here for a short list of cases.)

In Race Tires America Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp, the Western District of Pennsylvania awarded over $367,000 of "taxable costs" to the prevailing defendants for eDiscovery services like hard drive imaging, data processing, keyword searching, and file format conversion. However, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the award, defining copies as only scanning and file-format conversion, drawing a sharp distinction between "exemplification" and "making copies" in §1920(4).

In Delaware District Court recently, in Cordance Corp. v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 06-491-MPT (D. Del. Apr. 11, 2012), Amazon prevailed and requested $447,694.69 reimbursement for electronic discovery costs under D. DEL. LR54.1(b)(11). According to Magistrate Judge Thynge

D. DEL. LR54.1(b)(11) provides “Other costs: Claims for costs other than those specifically mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of subpart (b) of this rule ordinarily will not be allowed, unless the party claiming such costs substantiates the claim by reference to a statute or binding decision.” Discovery or ediscovery expenses are not specifically itemized under LR 54.1(b)

Applying Race Tires, Judge Thynge approved just $1,729.28 as taxable, and requires Amazon to "produce documents that distinguish the costs for converting documents, which were recoverable, from costs for processing, which were not" in order to recover any other eDiscovery costs.

Clearly §1920(4) still has some value to prevailing parties in Delaware District Court (and elsewhere in the 3rd Circuit), just not as much as it once appeared.

When is a clawback not a clawback?

When it's a quick peek, as was ordered in ACS State Healthcare, LLC v. Wipro, Inc. and Wipro, Ltd., No. 4385-VCP ( Del. Ch., July 23, 2009).  This is believed to be the first order of its kind in Delaware and continues the Court of Chancery's recent trend of providing eDiscovery guidance to Delaware practitioners.

The title of this post may be a bit misleading though and may simply reflect my own ignorance of the true distinction between quick peek and clawback.  (Or maybe I'm being pedantic.)  Certainly, there are clawback provisions in this order, but the production of documents without review is what makes this a quick peek.  The two are often presented as alternative means of protecting privilege waiver in eDiscovery, but it seems that clawback protects privilege while quick peek shifts costs.  So quick peek is really clawback plus cost-shifting?

The State of eDiscovery in Delaware, Pt. VI

In Part V of this series, we summarized the cases from late 2006 and all of 2007. Quick summary of those cases: the District Court concluded that imaged files should be the default form of production absent party agreement, the Bankruptcy Court issued summary judgment against a party found to have knowingly destroyed ESI despite reasonably anticipating litigation, the Superior Court declared spoliation requires intent not just negligence, and the Court of Chancery required discovery requests be supported by “a particularized showing of need.” On to 2008.

In a series of cases culminating in State v. Sisson, 2008 WL 162825 (Jan. 17, 2008), the Superior Court dealt with multiple issues of admissibility and validity of electronic evidence in a criminal case. Michael Arkfeld's eLaw Exchange provides the following concise summary:

At trial, Sisson filed a motion to suppress evidence collected at his home pursuant to warrant on four grounds: 1) the evidence was stale 2) the probable cause information was insufficient because the affidavit did not show that “emails sent by an internet ‘screen name’ linked to” Sisson were actually sent by him, nor did it demonstrate reliability of sources 3) ”police intentionally or recklessly omitted information” that Sisson may have been the victim of “spoofing” and 4) that the affidavit was recklessly or intentionally misleading in that it incorrectly suggested that the police had actual possession of “the illegal emails to which pornographic images allegedly were attached.”  In a ruling on the probable cause argument, the court held that AOL, an internet service provider, was a reliable informant as it was equivalent to a “citizen eyewitness to a crime” and thus no “independent corroboration” of the information it provided was necessary.  The court found that there were sufficient facts set forth in the affidavit to support a finding of probable cause “because the ‘screen name’ associated with the email and linked to Defendant was sufficient to allow a reasonable person to believe that ‘seizable property would be found at the address of the Internet subscriber with whom the name is registered’.”

Sisson subsequently challenged his conviction on several counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child and Unlawfully dealing in Child Pornography to the Delaware Supreme Court and said conviction was affirmed on all grounds.  On Motion for Post Conviction Relief, Sisson argued, in pertinent part, that he suffered ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorneys either did not argue or improperly argued on appeal: that a password was not required for email “spoofing”; “that the detectives acted with reckless disregard for the truth by not stating in the search warrant that they did not have the IP address of the computer that sent the email”; that a username alone was not enough to establish a link between Sisson’s home and the computer that transmitted the email; and that the informants supplying the information for the search warrant (AOL and NCMEC) were unreliable.  Defendant’s motion was denied on all counts.

In a very short order in February 2008, the Court of Chancery requires a non-party to submit the credentials of its eDiscovery vendor/consultant. Solow v. Aspect Resources LLC, 2008 WL 441394. Competence of third party vendors and counsel is an issue we’re likely to see more of in the future. In a recent case out of Washington State, the court reduced attorney’s fees in connection with eDiscovery work for inexperience.

In the spring, in In re Kent County Adequate Pub. Facilities Ordinances Litig. (April 18, 2008), the Court of Chancery addresses the issue of attorney-client privilege waiver and applies a test that almost mirrors what will become new FRE 502 a few months later. In response to Petitioners’—landowners and developers—motion to compel in an underlying action, Kent County argued that some of the documents requested were privileged. Kent County asserted privilege over a set of documents it had voluntarily produced to support its motion to preclude the depositions of the individual respondents. The Court found that privilege had been waived for these documents. Another set of documents, however, was produced inadvertently, and Kent County sought to recover them as privileged. The Court, in agreeing to the return of the documents, applied the following test:

In order to determine whether the inadvertently disclosed documents have lost their privileged status, the Court must consider the following factors: (1) the reasonableness of the precautions taken to prevent inadvertent disclosure; (2) the time taken to rectify the error; (3) the scope of discovery and extent of disclosure; and (4) the overall fairness, judged against the care or negligence with which the privilege is guarded.

In applying this test, the Court cited the Delaware Superior Court’s decisions in Monsanto Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 1994 WL 315238 (Del. Super.) (citing Lois Sportswear, U.S.A., Inc. v. Levi Strauss & Co., 104 F.R.D. 103 (S.D.N.Y.1985).

In summer 2008, in In re Intel Corp. Microprocessor Antitrust Litig., 2008 WL 2310288 (June 4, 2008), the District Court adopted a special master’s report finding waiver of work product protection. The plaintiffs moved to compel production of Intel’s attorneys’ custodian interview notes relating to litigation hold compliance.  The parties had previously reached a privilege waiver agreement, but the special master found that the agreement did not extend to these notes.  However, the special master found a privilege waiver for any custodian statements voluntarily disclosed by Intel.  The special master opined that finding otherwise would have allowed Intel to "use its sword to assert facts while at the same time shield" the plaintiffs from Intel’s claim of human errors in its performance of its duty to preserve evidence.  The special master concluded that protection of the non-core work product had been waived, so granted the plaintiffs motion for production.

Later that summer, the Court of Chancery, in Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Inc. v. Huntsman Corp., 2008 WL 3522445 (Aug. 18, 2008), enforces a “clawback” agreement. Huntsman inadvertently produced an email drafted by one of its outside counsel and sent to another of its outside counsel and its investment banker in connection with a merger with Hexion. The Court found the email privileged and allowed for its clawback pursuant to the confidentiality order.

About a month later, the Court of Chancery, in a letter decision in Kinexus Representative LLC v. Advent Software, Inc., C.A. 1161-CC, reiterates that native or OCR production is not required “without a particularized showing of need.”  Advent produced documents in non-searchable TIFF format. Kinexus moved to compel Advent to comply with an instruction to produce searchable ESI. The Court declined to find OCR required by court rules. The Court did find that Advent’s offer to produce “extracted text” was an acceptable compromise but ordered Kinexus to pay for the processing. It’s not clear what format the “extracted text” was provided in. If anyone if familiar with this case and knows how the extracted text was provided, please leave a comment. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious about that.

On September 19, 2008, President Bush signed FRE 502 into law. The newly adopted rule was identical to the one approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in September 2007.

At last, we reach 2009! We’ll cover 2009 in the next and final installment of this series. In the meantime, if you know of significant Delaware eDiscovery cases from 2008 that you think I should have included, please post a comment to let everyone know.