Chancery Addresses eDiscovery Self-Collection in Pro Se Defense of Restrictive Covenant Dispute
Summit Fire & Security LLC v. Kolias, C.A. No. 2022-0460-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 19, 2022)
“Self-collection” in eDiscovery refers to a party selecting its own data for review or production without input from counsel. Delaware courts generally disapprove of self-collection. But the courts will approach the issue differently in pro se matters where it may be necessary and appropriate for a party to self-collect, without turning any data repositories over to a vendor. In this restrictive covenant dispute, the plaintiff entity moved to compel the production of a complete forensic image of an individual pro se defendant’s phone, claiming that the prior production of relevant text messages was inadequate based on the defendant’s self-collection of data. The Court declined to order that relief, noting that self-collection often is necessary for pro se parties and that there was no indication that the defendant had failed to meet any of his preservation obligations. In light of those facts, and the case’s circumstances, requiring full access to a complete forensic image was unreasonable and disproportionate to the needs of the case.