It has become commonplace for parties engaged in electronic discovery to discuss and agree upon “keyword” searches in an effort to limit the overall scope of discovery. A recent decision in the District of New Jersey, I-Med Pharma, Inc. v. Biomatrix, Civ. No. 03-3677 (DRD), (D.N.J. 2011), demonstrates the pitfalls that arise when the parties too eagerly agree to conduct a search for electronically stored information using an overly broad set of keywords. The case also demonstrates a court’s willingness to engage in proportionality analysis to cabin broad discovery.
Southern District of New York Implements Pilot Program to Require Early Identification & Resolution of E-Discovery Issues in Complex Cases
The Judicial Improvements Committee of the Southern District of New York issued a report announcing the initiation of a Pilot Project Regarding Case Management Techniques for Complex Civil Cases (the “JIC Report”) in October 2011. The pilot project, which became effective on November 1, 2011, is designed to run for 18 months and for now, applies only to specific matters designated as “complex cases.” The project, which seeks to enhance the caliber of judicial case management, arose out of recommendations from the May 2010 Duke Conference on Civil Procedure and E-Discovery. This blog posting focuses on that portion of the pilot program devoted to the discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”).
Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm, a renowned authority on e-discovery, recently published an article in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology discussing Federal Rule of Evidence 502. Judge Grimm’s article, “Federal Rule of Evidence 502: Has It Lived Up To Its Potential?,” provides a comprehensive analysis of Rule 502, offers frank criticism of court decisions interpreting the rule and outlines do’s and don’ts for practitioners.
Trial Court Says New York’s “Requester Pays” Rule Applies Only to Data That Is Not Readily Available
As discussed in a recent post, there exists a dichotomy between the New York state and federal courts with respect to which party should bear the cost of producing inaccessible data. A recent New York Supreme (Trial) Court decision held that New York’s standard “requester pays” rule only applies to data that is not “readily available.” Silverman v. Shaoul, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 20507, 2010 N.Y. Misc. (Sup. Ct. New York Cty. Nov. 3, 2010).
A recent article in the New York Law Journal by the secretary of the e-discovery committee of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association underscored the confusion that remains in New York courts with respect to which party is responsible for bearing the cost of electronic document production. The article discusses cases that, on the one hand, state “what many have long believed was the rule in New York,” that “generally, the cost of [electronic] document production is borne by the party requesting the production.” Response Personnel, Inc. v. Aschenbrenner, 77 A.D.3d 518, 519, 909 N.Y.S.2d 433, 434 (1st Dept. 2010) (emphasis added). On the other hand, the First Department has also held that they “see no reason to deviate from the general rule that, during the course of the action, each party should bear the expenses it incurs in responding to discovery requests.” Clarendon Nat. Ins. Co. v. Atl. Risk Mgmt., Inc., 59 A.D.3d 284, 286, 73 N.Y.S.2d 69, 70 (1st Dept. 2009) (citing Waltzer v. Tradescape & Co., L.L.C., 31 A.D.3d 302, 819 N.Y.S.2d 38 (1st Dept. 2006)).
Different Approaches to Cost Shifting in New York State and Federal Courts for Production of Inaccessible ESI
In Spring 2009, the Joint E-Discovery Subcommittee of The Association of The Bar of the City of New York issued a Manual for State Trial Courts Regarding Electronic Discovery Cost-Allocation, highlighting the different approaches taken by state and federal courts in New York. One key difference is how they approach cost shifting when it comes to the production of inaccessible ESI.
Lawyers for Civil Justice Plea for Change in ESI Preservation Rules; Report Submitted to Civil Rules Advisory Committee
Lawyers for Civil Justice (“LCJ”) recently submitted a formal comment to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules regarding problems related to the preservation of information in litigation. The comment, which can be found here, pleads for a change in the current approach to preservation of electronically stored information (“ESI”), in which preservation obligations are largely created by individual courts on an ad hoc basis. This approach, LCJ points out, creates heavy burdens on litigants: The cost of preservation is too high, the risk of spoliation sanctions is too great, and the impact of ancillary litigation proceedings on discovery disputes is too debilitating. Substantive issues in many cases have become overshadowed by issues of preservation.