Litigation Hold: Scope

Scope of a legal hold.

August 28, 2021

What is a Document? (Part II)

In a prior blog, I discussed the evolving and fluid concept of “what is a document?” The following spreadsheet demonstrates one aspect of the issue on simplified facts. Assume that an accountant is being deposed about a spreadsheet that the accountant prepared many years ago, and the issue is the manner in […]
August 18, 2021

Defendant Unsuccessfully Argued that Plaintiff Could Not Show That Data on Cell Phone That Defendant Destroyed Was Relevant

In McCoy v. Transdev Svc., Inc., 2021 WL 1215770 (D. Md. Mar. 31, 2021) (Copperthite, J.), data on Defendant’s former employee’s cell phone was erased after Plaintiffs had sent a preservation letter.[1] Defendant Transdev admitted that it had a duty to preserve the evidence and had control over it when it was […]
August 17, 2021

What is a “Document?”

Back in the days of paper-based litigation, it was rare to argue over the definition of a “document.”[1]  Usually, it was clear where a letter, memo, or contract began and ended.  But, ESI is much different than paper and recent cases bring that issue to the forefront. In Sandoz v. Un. Therapeutics […]
August 12, 2021

When Does a Litigation Hold End?

Much has been written about what triggers a litigation hold, i.e., reasonable anticipation of litigation.[1] Less has been written about when a litigation hold ends.  That became a potential problem for the defendant in Thomas v. Cricket Wireless, LLC, 2021 WL 1017114 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2021). The question of when a […]
August 11, 2021

Snapchat Spoliation Blog: More on the Dangers of Unsupervised Self Collection

Thanks to Phil Favro of Driven, Inc., for his excellent post “Snapchat Spoliation Case Highlights the Importance of eDiscovery Competence” (Driven, Inc., Jul. 20, 2021). Phil’s blog discusses the importance of understanding the features of various messaging programs.  I have recently blogged about a District of Maryland decision that conditionally approves of […]
August 11, 2021

There Is a Difference Between Relevance for Discovery and Relevance for Spoliation Sanctions

In Snyder v. Moag & Co., LLC, 2021 WL 3190493 (D. Md. Jul. 28, 2021) (Copperthite, J.), the Court wrote that, “the matter is quite simple – has Petitioner met the elements of spoliation.”  The Court answered that in the negative.  In doing so, it differentiated between the loss or destruction of […]
August 10, 2021

District of Maryland Gives Qualified Approval to Non-Forensic Downloads of Social Media Data

Many social media programs provide their members with a non-forensic download tool.  For example, Google Takeout, Uber, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide download instructions.  See C. Ball, “Preserving Social Media Content: DIY (Dec. 24, 2019). However, those tools may not provide the same information that a forensic download collects. In Allen v. PPE […]
August 9, 2021

When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable? — When a Litigation Hold is Defective.

Much has been written about discoverability of litigation hold notices.  See Blog, “When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable?” (citing authorities). In March, the court in Thomas v. Cricket Wireless, LLC, 2021 WL 1017114, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2021) (“Cricket II”), wrote:  “This matter is back before the undersigned on […]
August 3, 2021

Maker’s Mark: A Different View of Self Collection

In Maker’s Mark Distiller, Inc. v. Spalding Grp., Inc., 2021 WL 2018880 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 20, 2021), the court addressed self-collection. I have previously written on self-collection in “Unsupervised Self-Collection Predictably Led to Problems,” and in “Self-Identification and Self-Preservation: A Fool for a Client?,” I cited to R. Losey, “Another “Fox Guarding […]
July 23, 2021

Plaintiff Sanctioned for Spoliation of Automobile Engines Due to Inadequate Implementation of Litigation Hold

In Hyundai Motor Amer. Corp. v. N. American Automotive Svcs., Inc., et al., 2021 WL 3111191 (S.D. Fl. Jul. 22, 2021), sanctions were imposed against the plaintiff, Hyundai Motor America Corp. (“HMA”). At bottom, HMA failed to follow basic, well-established procedures to implement a litigation hold, and crucial evidence then went missing.  […]
July 22, 2021

The Perils of a Misfocused Preservation Letter

In a preservation letter, a potential litigant demands that the opponent preserve specific ESI and documents.  The purpose of the letter is to trigger the common-law duty to preserve potentially responsive information.  However, if not properly drafted, a preservation letter can have the opposite effect.  Malone v. Wicomico County, MD, 2021 WL […]
February 12, 2021

“[I]t is no longer amateur hour.”

In a February 11, 2021, post,   Court Enforces Strict Sanctions For Failing To Be Competent In ESI Obligations | Farrell Fritz, P.C. – JDSupra , the author describes the sanctions decision in In DR Distributors, LLC v. 21 Century Smoking, Inc., a trademark dispute over electronic cigarettes, stating: As noted by Judge Johnson, “[i]t […]
February 7, 2021

District of Maryland’s Recent Application of Spoliation Doctrine in Discrimination Case

In Membreno v. Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC, 2021 WL 351174 (D. Md. Feb. 2, 2021), the Court applied the spoliation doctrine in an employment discrimination case. The plaintiff alleged injury due to a hostile work environment and discrimination based on gender identity and sex.  The Court wrote: “Discovery was contentious….”  The plaintiff […]
January 29, 2021

Some Tactical Options for Businesses Faced With Pre-Litigation Preservation Demands

After litigation starts, a business faced with unreasonable preservation or discovery demands can resort to the court’s procedural rules to request relief from a judge.  However, the duty to preserve potentially responsive information often arises in a “free for all” zone before litigation is commenced.  In that situation, there is no umpire […]
January 9, 2021

Maryland’s Intermediate Court Affirms Denial of Sanction for Spoliation of Video Evidence

An unreported decision of the intermediate appellate court provides an interesting contrast to Steamfitters Local Union No. 602 v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 469 Md. 704 (2020), which is discussed in a prior blog. In Benson v. ALDI, Inc., 2019 WL 5704532 (Md. Ct. Spl. Apls. Nov. 5, 2019), summary judgment was affirmed […]
January 8, 2021

Maryland’s High Court Affirms Sanction for Spoliation of Video Evidence

“I just delete. I delete – delete. Anything there that I don’t want, don’t need anymore, I delete.” Peterson v. Evapco, Inc., 238 Md. App. 1, 21 (2018).  That is an invitation to disaster.  Steamfitters Local Union No. 602 v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 469 Md. 704 (2020), involved spoliation in the context […]
January 3, 2021

Is Cremation, Burial, or Suicide Spoliation?

While this blog is focused on ESI, Maryland State courts have been asked to apply the spoliation doctrine in unique contexts.  They have addressed whether: Cremation is spoliation, Adventist Healthcare v. Mattingly, 244 Md.App. 259 (2020); Jarrett v. State, 220 Md. App. 571 (2014); Burial is spoliation, Hollingsworth & Vose Co. v. […]
December 27, 2020

Triggering the Duty to Preserve ESI

Two recent decisions of the District of Maryland demonstrate when the duty to preserve is triggered in the context of spoliation motions.  Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n. v. MVM, Inc., 2020 WL 6482193 (D. Md. Nov. 2, 2020) (“MVM“); Eller v. Prince George’s Co. Public Schools, et al., 2020 WL 7336730 (D. Md. […]
December 11, 2020

The “Practical Ability” Standard for “Control” in Maryland

In Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n. v. MVM, Inc., 2020 WL 6482193 (D. Md. Nov. 2, 2020), the Court again followed a “practical ability” plus notification standard for determining when ESI is within a party’s possession, custody, or control, and what should be done if it is not.  Maryland State courts appear to […]
December 1, 2020

When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable?

A recent ABA practice point described Radiation Oncology Servs. of Cent. N.Y., P.C. v. Our Lady of Lourdes Mem’l Hosp., Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 20133, ¶ 2, 69 Misc. 3d 209, 126 N.Y.S.3d 873, 875 (Sup. Ct.) (decided June 9, 2020) (Masler, J.). In Radiation Oncology, the court addressed when a litigation hold […]
November 28, 2020

The Duty to Preserve Continues Even After Production of Social Media

In Faulkner v. Aero Fulfillment Services, 2020 WL 3048177 (S.D.Oh. June 8, 2020), the court held that deactivation of a LinkedIn site after it had been downloaded and produced breached the duty to preserve that ESI.  However, the sanction was limited to an admonishment due to the absence of prejudice. The problem […]
May 12, 2020

Publication of M. Berman, et al., eds., ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION IN THE MARYLAND COURTS (2020)

I am pleased to announce the publication by the Maryland State Bar Association of M. Berman, et al., eds.,  ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION IN THE MARYLAND COURTS (2020). This book is intended as a practitioner’s handbook addressing primarily – but not exclusively – how ESI is addressed in Maryland State courts, comparing and […]
July 25, 2015

The Duty to Preserve & the Spoliation Doctrine in the Maryland State Courts

My article, “The Duty to Preserve ESI (Its Trigger, Scope, and Limit) & the Spoliation Doctrine in Maryland State Courts” was recently published in the University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. 45 (2015).  The article discusses Maryland case law addressing the issue, suggests a modern analytical framework, and concludes with a cautionary […]
August 18, 2012

Book Review: “Zubulake’s e-Discovery: The Untold Story of My Search for Justice,” by Ms. Laura A. Zubulake

Ms. Laura A. Zubulake has published an account of her experiences as the plaintiff in the groundbreaking “Zubulake case.”  The book is entitled Zubulake’s e-Discovery: The Untold Story of My Quest for Justice. According to Shepard’s, the first decision in that string of decisions, Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, LLC, 217 F.R.D. 309 […]
July 30, 2011

American Bar Assoc., Publishes Berman, et al., Managing E-Discovery and ESI

The American Bar Association has  published M. Berman, C. Barton, and P. Grimm, eds., Managing E-Discovery and ESI: From Pre-Litigation Through Trial.  The 761-page work features chapters by The Hon. Paul W. Grimm (D.Md.), The Hon. John M. Facciola (D.D.C.),  The Hon. James C. Francis IV (S.D.N.Y.), and The Hon. Joseph F. […]