Commercial Litigation

May 20, 2022

Sanctions for Discovery Misconduct

The ABA reports that a Judge criticizes ‘nasty litigation tactics’ while sanctioning BigLaw firm (abajournal.com)[1]  Sanctions were based on statements the court deemed to be untrue and deposition conduct the court deemed to be unprofessional and rude.[2] The court wrote: After considering all the evidence and arguments, I find that Stryker failed […]
May 18, 2022

“The Checklist Manifesto” and the Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) Conference

“The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right,” by Atul Gawande, M.D.,[1] is a fascinating analysis of the history and uses of checklists. In a nutshell, the thesis is that there are many areas where we have sufficient knowledge to solve problems; however, we fail to apply it correctly.  “Getting the steps […]
May 16, 2022

Information Governance – Mis(?)-Labeling Documents as Privileged (Part IV)

Google’s “communicate with care” program has garnered a lot of attention.[1] It allegedly instructed employees to label any written communications on a certain topic as privileged and send them to in-house counsel.  The Department of Justice sought sanctions and an order compelling disclosure, asserting that the policy was pretextual. Google replied that […]
May 11, 2022

Recognized by America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators

It is an honor to be selected as one of America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators. If you would like more information about America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® or the selection process, please visit the website at www.Top100CivilDefenseLitigators.com
April 29, 2022

Deposition Errata Pages in Maryland

An excellent article by Brian A. Zemel, All Things Errata (americanbar.org)(ABA Apr. 19, 2022), addresses the scope of changes a deponent may make to an errata sheet. He explains: If the deponent’s submission is procedurally valid, counsel should then determine whether the witness’s changes were substantive and whether the jurisdiction permits such changes. […]
April 21, 2022

Sedona Conference “Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2021-22”

Philip J. Favro, Esq., has edited the just-published “Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2021-22” (The Sedona Conference 2022).  This is an excellent resource in an always-changing field. Phil’s work runs the gamut of topics, including cooperation, ephemeral messaging, ESI protocols, ethics, Fed.R.Evid. 502(d), privilege logging, redactions, litigation holds, social media, […]
April 20, 2022

Sanctions Imposed for Fabricated and Unproduced Text Messages

In Gunter v. Alutiiq Advanced Security Solutions, LLC, 2022 WL 1139875 (D. Md. Apr. 18, 2022), a pro se plaintiff alleged various employment discrimination claims. After defendant provided forensic testimony, the plaintiff was sanctioned under Rule 41(b), Rule 37(e), Rule 26(g), and the Court’s inherent power, for fabricating and failing to produce […]
April 20, 2022

Rule 11 Sanctions for Impugning Character of Opposing Counsel

Doe I v. Exxon Mobile Corp., 2022 WL 1124902 (D.D.C. Apr. 14, 2022), describes the imposition of a Rule 11 sanction for defense counsel impugning the character of plaintiffs’ counsel in a paper filed in court.  The court wrote: The Court also ordered defense counsel … [names omitted] …to show cause why […]
April 10, 2022

Ethics: More Remote Misconduct

I have written about Misconduct in Remote Trials and Misconduct in Remote Depositions. In the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s deja vue all over again.”  Improper Texting During Remote Testimony Can Result in Significant Consequences to Litigants and Lawyers | Publications | Insights | Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Traci McKee […]
April 9, 2022

Information Governance – Mis(?)-Labeling Documents as Privileged (Part III)

When the Department of Justice alleged that Alphabet Inc.’s Google was camouflaging ordinary documents as privileged, I – and many others – posted abut information governance.  When Google responded that the government’s allegation was “baseless” and that it had spent 21,000 hours on privilege review, I also reported that.  Information Governance – […]
April 4, 2022

What is a Document? (Part III)

Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 authorizes discovery of “any designated documents or electronically stored information….” That Rule is limited to the scope of discovery set out in Rule 26(b)(“matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional ….”); see Md. Rules 2-402 and 2-422. In a prior post, I addressed What is a […]
April 3, 2022

Maryland v. Federal Rules on the Scope of Discovery and Proportionality

In several recent blogs, I have highlighted many of the differences between the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Maryland Rules.  Those blogs are listed in Maryland v. Federal Rule Regarding a Mandatory Conference of the Parties. The Maryland Rules regarding the scope of discovery and proportionality limits contain significant differences […]
April 2, 2022

Maryland v. Federal Clawback and Privilege Non-Waiver Rules

I have written about several differences between the Maryland Rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  See  Maryland v. Federal Rule Regarding a Mandatory Conference of the Parties, Maryland v. Federal Summary Judgment Rule, and  M. Berman & A. Shelton,  “Commentary: With ESI, difference between federal, state rules,” The Daily Record (June […]
April 1, 2022

Sedona Conference’s “Commentary on Protecting Trade Secrets Throughout The Employment Life Cycle”

The Sedona Conference has published its “Commentary on Protecting Trade Secrets Throughout The Employment Life Cycle” (March 2022).  It is another excellent and authoritative work in its series on trade secret protection.  See Sedona Conference Issues Commentary on Equitable Remedies in Trade Secret Litigation. The Commentary describes the protection problem as the […]
March 31, 2022

40th State Adopts a Duty of Technological Competence – Is It a Good Idea?

Although the ABA’s “technological competence” standard is a good “first step,” it could be improved.  Simply telling attorneys “be competent” – – with no further guidance or implementation – – does little to advance the ball.  Several articles make this point and suggest the need for additional specificity, education, and greater emphasis […]
March 29, 2022

A Focused Preservation Letter

I recently wrote about The Perils of a Misfocused Preservation Letter, discussing Malone v. Wicomico County, MD, 2021 WL 1312900 (D. Md. Apr. 8, 2021), and Some Tactical Options for Businesses Faced With Pre-Litigation Preservation Demands. Phil Favro’s excellent blog Lessons Learned for 2022: Spotlighting Five eDiscovery Trends from 2021 – Innovative […]
March 28, 2022

Maryland v. Federal Rule Regarding a Mandatory Conference of the Parties

Unlike the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Maryland Rules do not generally mandate a conference of the parties.  However, Rule 2-504.1(a)(4) provides a mechanism for a party to request that a State court order a “meet and confer.” The federal rule has a convoluted history.  Rule 26(f) – – the conference […]
March 26, 2022

Discovery of Steps Taken to Implement a Litigation Hold is Permitted

Much has been written about the discoverability of litigation hold notices. Are Litigation Hold Notices Discoverable?,  When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable? — When a Litigation Hold is Defective, and When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable? The flip side of the coin is whether the steps taken by a potential […]
March 24, 2022

Maryland v. Federal Summary Judgment Rule

After the December 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, I co-authored two publications noting some of the differences between the new Federal Rules and the Maryland Rules. M. Berman & A. Shelton,  “Commentary: With ESI, difference between federal, state rules,” The Daily Record (June 17, 2016); M. Berman, et al., […]
March 24, 2022

Maryland Appellate Decision Permitting Limited Forensic Search of Non-Parties’ Cell Phones

In St. Francis Academy, et al. v. Gilman School, Inc., No. 1390 (Md. Ct. Spl. Apls. Mar. 21, 2022) (unreported), the intermediate appellate court affirmed an order directing forensic imaging and searching of non-parties’ cell phones under a strict protocol to protect the cell phone owners’ privacy.  It carefully balanced the discovering […]
March 23, 2022

Relevance Redactions Rejected – Rule 26(f) Resolution

This blog focuses on: authorities denying permission to redact irrelevant information from discoverable documents; a minority view to the contrary; and, a proposed solution using a Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) conference of the parties where appropriate.  If a party foresees the need to redact irrelevant or confidential information from an otherwise discoverable document, the […]
March 23, 2022

Information Governance – Mis(?)-Labeling Documents as Privileged

Mar. 25, 2022 UPDATE: B. Ford and M. Bergen, Google Disputes DOJ Claim It Hid Documents in Lawyer Emails (bloomberglaw.com) (Mar. 24, 2022). Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pushing back on U.S. Justice Department claims that it improperly used attorney-client privilege to conceal documents in the government’s monopoly lawsuit against the company. “None of the […]
March 17, 2022

Sedona Conference Issues Commentary on Equitable Remedies in Trade Secret Litigation

Earlier this month, the Sedona Conference published its “Commentary on Equitable Remedies in Trade Secret Litigation” (Mar. 2022). The comprehensive Sedona Commentary offers five Principles and 24 Guidelines. Its premise is that: “Obtaining or resisting some form of equitable relief is a key component of many trade secret disputes, both at an […]
March 12, 2022

UPDATE:  Recovery of ESI Costs:  “The fuss is about money…. [E]lectronic discovery is really expensive.”

Taxation of costs in federal court is governed by 28 U.S.C. §1920.  An ABA Litigation Section article, W. Newman, Prevailing Parties Recover Some, Not All, E-discovery Costs (americanbar.org) (ABA Winter 2022), cited a recent decision and noted that “ABA Litigation Section leaders believe this decision reveals that section 1920 is out of […]
March 11, 2022

Secondary Evidence as a “Gap Filler”

In Hale v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2022 WL 374512 (D. Md. Feb. 8, 2022), the Court applied the secondary evidence rule where text messages had been deleted: As discussed throughout, there is a glaring lack of documentary or testimonial evidence corroborating the existence of the text messages that constitute […]
March 8, 2022

Failure to Cooperate Costs Clients Money

Much has been written about the duty to cooperate.  In 1850, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can…. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man [or woman].” [1] No attorney wants a judicial opinion stating that they have wasted the client’s […]
March 7, 2022

Requests for a Preservation Order

Preservation orders may be entered by agreement, ex parte, or upon motion after an opportunity for briefing.  Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3)(B)(iii) and Rule 26(f)(3)(C) authorize preservation orders as part of a discovery plan or scheduling order.  Additionally, “[a] federal court may also issue preservation orders as part of its inherent authority to manage its […]
February 23, 2022

Information Governance Decisions Can Carry a Big Price Tag

Businesses need to carefully consider whether they will permit employees to use business information technology systems for private work.  For example, while allowing an employee to use company resources for charitable work may be commendable, it can impose substantial costs if the non-business work leads to litigation. A recent article about a […]
February 17, 2022

Beyond Email – Slack, “Channels,” and Expert Testimony

Mike Hamilton’s blog, “Defendant Ordered to Produce 30,000 Slack Messages” (Exterro Feb. 7, 2022), provides an excellent description of Benebone LLC v. Pet Qwerks, Inc., 2021 WL 831025 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 18, 2021).  The blog correctly points out that, as to discovery of Slack messages, “proportionality was the key issue.” Benebone is […]
February 6, 2022

Court of Appeals Follows My Proposal on Voluntary Dismissal Rule

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently considered a proposed amendment of the voluntary dismissal rule. In rejecting the proposal, the State’s highest Court quoted my opposition to it and also quoted my suggested language for any needed clarification.  The Court’s discussion begins at 1:55:29 of the video recording. Rule 2-506(a) currently permits […]
February 5, 2022

Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Trial

I recently wrote a blog Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Depositions. The ABA Journal has provided an example of misconduct in a virtual trial.  D. Weiss, “Lawyer is suspended for coaching client using chat function during virtual trial” (ABA Journal Feb. 1, 2022).  Ms. Weiss reports that: “An Arizona lawyer has consented to a two-month […]
February 4, 2022

Preservation Demand May Have Done More Than Trigger Duty to Preserve

The Washington Post recently reported on the departure of Jeff Zucker as president of CNN.  J. Barr, “After Jeff Zucker’s ouster, CNN staffers raise questions about a Chris Cuomo connection” (Wash. Post Feb. 3, 2022).  The article asks: “Jeff Zucker’s surprise ouster Wednesday left CNN with a leadership void and an irresistible […]
February 4, 2022

Harford County Redistricting Challenge Dismissed

With the excellent attorneys and staff of Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC, I was lead counsel in the defense of a redistricting lawsuit in Harford County, MD.  The firm press release states: “RWL was pleased to represent the Harford County Council and its members in the above matter. The statement below was just […]
January 16, 2022

No Spoliation Instruction Regarding Surveillance Video in Supermarket Personal Injury Case

In Webb v. Giant of Maryland, LLC, __ Md. __, 2021 WL 6016453, at *1 (Dec. 21, 2021), the Court held that it was error to instruct the jury on spoliation on the facts presented.  The store where plaintiff was injured had more than 30 cameras in operation and was notified of […]
December 18, 2021

Notice of Proposed Changes to the Maryland Rules

In its 209th Report, the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure proposed a number of rules changes.  The proposals were transmitted to the Court of Appeals on December 10, 2021.  The comment period will close on January 10, 2022.  The date of the Court’s open meeting on the proposed changes […]
December 9, 2021

“Old” Sedona Paper Implements the “Specificity” Provision of Discovery Responses

In New Sedona Primer Implements the “Bull’s Eye View” of Discovery Requests, I discussed the recent “public comment” version of Sedona’s Primer on discovery requests.  Here, I discuss Sedona’s 2018 “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2) Primer: Practice Pointers for Responding to Discovery Requests,” 19 Sedona Conf.J. 447 (2018), in conjunction with […]
December 8, 2021

New Sedona Primer Implements the “Bull’s Eye View” of Discovery Requests

The Sedona Conference has released its “Primer on Crafting eDiscovery Requests with ‘Reasonable Particularity’” (Nov. 2021, Public Comment Version). The Primer is a valuable contribution.  It gathers a substantial body of research in an easy-to-read, authoritative resource.  It focuses entirely on discovery requests, not responses, and does so in depth.  And, it […]
November 30, 2021

Terminating Sanctions Reversed After Oral Litigation Hold Goes Awry

In Winecup Gamble, Inc. v. Gordon Ranch, LP, 2021 WL 2481861 (9th Cir. Jun. 15, 2021) (unpublished), the Ninth Circuit reversed entry of terminating sanctions, vacated the judgment, and remanded for further proceedings.  Plaintiff had imposed an oral litigation hold that proved insufficient and a good deal of ESI went missing.  The […]
November 29, 2021

Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Depositions

This blog addresses two remote deposition issues: 1) coaching by text messages; and, 2) coaching behind a COVID face mask. “A Florida lawyer has been suspended for 91 days for texting advice to a witness during a phone deposition and then failing to come clean when questioned by the opposing counsel and […]
November 28, 2021

Sanctions: Litigant Recently Testified That He Did Not Know What a “Litigation Hold” Was

Sanctions were imposed in DG BF LLC v. Ray, No. 2020-0459 (Del. Ch. Nov. 19, 2021).[1] The court dismissed a fraud and retaliation lawsuit for discovery abuse.  Among other issues, plaintiff testified that he did not know what a “litigation hold” was, even though defendants sent a preservation demand to him. It […]
November 28, 2021

Sanctions for: Failure to Impose a Litigation Hold; and, for Removing Zoo Animals After Notice of Inspection and Without Cooperative Communications

Collins v. Tri-State Zoological Park of Western MD, Inc., 2021 WL 5416533 (D. Md. Nov. 19, 2021), centers on allegations that defendants maintained a public nuisance by the neglect and ongoing mistreatment of animals residing at defendants’ zoo. On the spoliation issue, “Plaintiffs allege … that Defendants not only failed to issue […]
November 27, 2021

The Need for Law School Classes in Discovery Procedures

The Hon. Paul W. Grimm recently wrote of the need for more education about discovery.  Judge Grimm wrote that law schools share some of the blame for discovery abuses “for not spending sufficient time teaching students about discovery obligations in civil procedure classes.”  P. Grimm, “Good Faith in Discovery,” 46 Litigation 23 […]
November 19, 2021

Recent Decision Shows the Need for Information Governance, Computer Usage Policies, and Employee Training

Information governance and computer usage policies should caution employees not to include embarrassing information in business communications.  Once that information is included in an email, if the communication is filed in court, the public likely gets to see it.  Callahan v. Un. Network for Organ Sharing, __ F.4th __, 2021 WL 5351863 […]
November 17, 2021

Categorical Privilege Log Presented Interpretive Issues

Categorical privilege logs can save time and money.  “The concept of categorical privilege logs in connection with ESI is not new.”  M. Berman, et al., eds., “Managing E-Discovery and ESI” (ABA 2011), 356; Blog, Categorical Privilege Logs: Don’t Shoot a Mouse with an Elephant Gun – E-Discovery LLC (ediscoveryllc.com) (Mar. 25, 2021). […]
November 13, 2021

“Wayback Machine” Evidence Held to be Insufficient to Support Personal Jurisdiction

In Abdul-Baatin v. LG ChemAmerica, Inc., No. 2217 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Nov. 12, 2021) (unpublished), evidence of defendant’s contacts with the forum was in part presented through a web page from the Wayback machine.  Defendant, a South Korean company, was sued for injuries allegedly sustained from an exploding lithium battery.  […]
September 4, 2021

Satisfactory Secondary Evidence Prevents Sanction

In Via Vadis, LLC, et al. v. Amazon.Com, Inc., 2021 WL 3134257 (W.D. Tex. Jul. 23, 2021), a request for sanctions was denied because the spoliating party provided satisfactory secondary evidence. When potentially relevant information goes missing, it is always a good practice to look for secondary evidence to replace it.  See […]
August 30, 2021

Expanding Privilege Protection to Fill the Gaps Left by Fed.R.Evid. 502

Federal Rule of Evidence 502 was passed in 2008 by a unanimous vote in the Senate, overwhelmingly in the House, and signed by President George W. Bush.  Anything with that degree of support has to be good and Rule 502 provides substantial and necessary benefits. An excellent publication describes the rule in […]
August 28, 2021

The Rule 12(d) Standard for Conversion of Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Rule 56 Motion

In Vorleamesi v. Esper, 2021 WL 3681163 (D. Md. Aug. 19, 2021) (Grimm, J.), the Court explained and applied the rules governing conversion of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment when the movant has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for […]
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 27, 2021

Waiver of Work Product Protection in Deposition Preparation Sessions

In Johnson v. Baltimore Police Dept., 2021 WL 1985014 (D. Md. May 18, 2021) (Boardman, J.), the Court addressed waiver of work product protection by showing documents to a third-party witness in deposition preparation. Twice before the deposition, plaintiff’s counsel showed three documents, several photographs, and one audio file to the deponent.  […]
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 10, 2021

Document Unitization

Josh Gilliland’s Bow Tie Law Blog has an excellent discussion of several recent decisions governing document unitization.  “Identifying Logical Document Breaks in Discovery Order” (Bowtielaw.com Aug. 8, 2021). Proper document unitization maintains the organizational structure of the original documents.  It is logical and facilitates use in litigation support platforms. Improper unitization – […]
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 26, 2021

Authenticity and the Role of the Trial Court as Gatekeeper Under Md. Rule 5-104

In Pifer v. Irwin Industrial Tool Co., 2021 WL 3076855 (Md. Ct. Spl. Apls. Jul. 21, 2021) (unreported), the appellate Court addressed a novel authenticity issue.  Specifically, the Court addressed the authentication of chalk samples gathered by plaintiff on eBay several decades after the date of manufacture, many of which contained a […]
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 21, 2021

Burden of Proof: Sanctions for Intentional Deletion of Text Messages

In a prior blog, “Burden of Proof of Spoliation,” I noted District of Maryland authority holding that: “Absent guidance from the Fourth Circuit, ‘the general approach of courts in the Fourth Circuit has been to apply the clear and convincing evidence standard, especially where a relatively harsh sanction like an adverse inference […]
July 20, 2021

Does Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) Mandate “Document Correlation” When ESI is Produced and, If So, Does Metadata Provide a “Work-Around” to Avoid the Costs of That Correlation Process?

There has long been a split of opinion as to the applicability of the “document correlation” provision of Rule 34(E)(i) to the production of ESI.*  In April of this year, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania weighed in.**  There is, however, a straightforward way to avoid the problem.  It involves negotiation, cooperation, and […]
March 16, 2021

Electronic Communications to a Class Action Advertising Web Site Deemed Not Privileged

Top Class Actions (“TCA”) ran a website “that provides information, among other things, about class actions, class action settlements, and class action investigations.”  The site contained attorney advertising and articles concerning class actions and mass torts.  Defendants served a subpoena on TCA seeking, among other things, communications from claimants and with law […]
March 7, 2021

Trade Secret – Can Damaged Party Obtain Ex-Worker’s Emails Sent on New Employer’s System?

Trade secret litigation invariably involves ESI.  Craig Ball has written “What’s in a Name (or Hash Value)?,” discussing the use of hash values and file names in tracking down stolen data.  In “The Gang That Couldn’t Spoliate Straight,” I discussed an order that the alleged wrongdoer preserve ESI and the potential issues […]
February 14, 2021

Marc Hirschfeld’s Legal Week Presentation

Marc Hirschfeld’s presentation at Legal Week, “Navigating the Pitfalls of E-Discovery for Boutique Litigators,” is well worth watching on Vimeo and Legal Week. Marc is the owner and president of Precision Legal Services.  Marc and I have collaborated on many projects. Marc discusses a number of topics in the one-hour video.  Among […]
February 13, 2021

Recovery of ESI Costs: “The fuss is about money…. [E]lectronic discovery is really expensive.”

In 2012, the Supreme Court’s Kan Pacific decision narrowed the scope of costs that may be awarded in federal cases.  “Taxation of E-Discovery Costs Under 28 U.S.C. §1920(4) after Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan” (Aug. 14, 2012).  In that blog, I suggested: When it comes to electronically stored information (“ESI”), “[t]he fuss […]
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 24, 2021

“The Gang That Couldn’t Spoliate Straight”

A few years ago, the Hon. Paul W. Grimm wrote: “At the end of the day, this is the case of the ‘gang that couldn’t spoliate straight.’”  Victor Stanley, Inc. v. Creative Pipe, Inc., 269 F.R.D. 497, 501 (D. Md. 2010). That description is equally applicable to the conduct that led to a […]
December 26, 2020

When Should a Spoliation Motion Be Filed and Decided?

Several recent decisions from the District of Maryland address the question of when a spoliation motion should be filed and decided.  Eller v. Prince George’s Co. Public Schools, et al., 2020 WL 7336730 (D. Md. Dec. 14, 2020); Shackelford v. Vivint Solar Developer, LLC, 2020 WL 5203340 (D. Md. September 1, 2020); […]
December 25, 2020

No Sanctions Despite Truncated Search

In In Re: Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (Bhr) Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2775, Master Docket No. 1:17-md-2775 (D. Md. Dec. 23, 2020), the Court denied a sanctions motion, attributing a failure to produce  an inconsistent email to search parameters that were too narrow.  The Court held that […]
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 […]
September 17, 2017

Mention in eDiscoveryPM.com

It was very nice to be mentioned by Michael I. Quartararo, Esq., author of “Project Management in Electronic Discovery” (2016) in the eDiscoveryPM blog.  See “Correcting the Record: Searching Attachments in Outlook.”  Mr. Quartararo’s book explains the application of legal project management principles (“LPM”) to e-discovery projects.  He defines “project management” as “the structured application […]
September 16, 2017

Decision of Court of Appeals of Maryland in Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC

After issuing a bypass writ or certiorari and hearing oral argument, the Court of Appeals of Maryland issued its decision in Doe v Alternative Medicine Maryland LLC, __ Md.__, 2017 WL 3668100 (2017).
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 14, 2012

Taxation of E-Discovery Costs Under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1920(4) after Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan

UPDATED February 13, 2021: “Recovery of ESI Costs: ‘The fuss is about money…. [E]lectronic discovery is really expensive.’” Note: This post was first published in “The Daily Record” on Aug. 12, 2012.  The original may be viewed by clicking here. * * * * When it comes to electronically stored information (“ESI”), […]
July 14, 2012

Book Review: “Electronic Discovery for Small Cases” (ABA 2012)

Bruce Olson and Tom O’Connor, “Electronic Discovery for Small Cases” (ABA 2012), addresses one of the most important topics in the ESI field, proportionality, in an elegant, clear, and concise manner. Its chief virtue is that, instead of listing a parade of horribles and describing multi-million dollar sanctions awards, it provides low-cost […]
August 7, 2011

Mock Rule 26(f) Conference of Parties Posted Online

A mock Rule 26(f) conference of parties has been posted online through the Technology Committee of the Litigation Section of the Maryland State Bar Association. Although much has been written about Rule 26(f) conferences, see, e.g., Chapter 19 in M. Berman, C. Barton, and The Hon. P. Grimm, eds., “Managing E-Discovery and […]
July 15, 2011

What Does “The Making of a Surgeon” Have to Do With ESI and “Software Glitches?”

“The Making of a Surgeon” In 1968, Dr. William A. Nolen wrote “The Making of a Surgeon” (Mid-List Press 1968, 1990): How do you make a surgeon? Not by the preliminaries, the four years of college and four years of medical school that have to be gone through to earn an M.D. […]
May 26, 2011

Self-Identification and Self-Preservation: A Fool for a Client?

“Self-preservation” is the ESI equivalent of “do-it-yourself” home repair.  If successful, it can save money.  If not, it can lead to bigger problems.  Recent decisions arising out of self-preservation disasters have posed the question of whether it is ever a viable technique to preserve and review ESI. A well-known commentator and The […]
May 24, 2011

Metadata May Not Be a Public Record in Maryland

As of October 1, 2011, Maryland will permit custodians of public records to scrub unprivileged metadata from those records, apparently at the requestor’s cost, before producing those records under the State analog to the Freedom of Information Act.  The statute, SB 74, Chapter 536 of the 2011 Laws of Maryland, amends the […]
April 1, 2011

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Premium Finance Cos.

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland ruled in favor of a large group of premium finance companies that had been denied the timely hearing required by Maryland statutes, in a recent decision in AFCO Credit Corp., et al. v. Maryland Insurance Administration.  The companies are challenging a ruling of the former […]
October 5, 2010

Berman Prevails On Commercial Free Speech Issue

The Attorney General of Maryland issued a formal opinion agreeing with commercial free speech arguments presented by Berman and RLLS in a matter pending before the Maryland Lottery Commission.  “Referenda – First Amendment – Gaming – Slot Machines – Whether State Lottery Commission May Limit Licensee’s Participation in Referendum Related to Another […]
September 11, 2010

Sedona Conference and Victor Stanley II Court Cite Law Review Proportionality Article

In a law review article, co-authored  by Michael Berman, entitled “Proportionality in the Post-Hoc Analysis of Pre-Litigation Preservation Decisions,” 37 U.Balt.L.Rev. 381, 384 (2008), the writers argued that application of the cost-benefit provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to pre-litigation preservation decisions would help reduce the current uncertainty regarding the […]
July 20, 2010

State’s top court rules that referendum on Arundel Mills slots is legal

The Baltimore Sun reported on the arguments before the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the State’s highest Court, on the “slots” referendum.  “Michael D. Berman, an attorney for the Maryland Jockey Club and the citizens group Citizens Against Slots at the Mall, argued before the court Tuesday morning that the right to […]
July 20, 2010

“Slots” Referendum Argument in Maryland Court of Appeals

WBAL TV reported that during oral argument in the State’s highest court, “Michael Berman, an attorney for a group that opposes putting the casino near Arundel Mills Mall, said the framework of the constitutional amendment approved by Maryland voters in 2008 imposed the possibility of local discretion on where a casino could […]
July 20, 2010

Webcast: Berman’s Oral Argument in Court of Appeals of Maryland

This is a link to a webcast of Berman’s July 20, 2010, oral argument in the Court of  Appeals of Maryland.  The Court issued an order that same day ruling in favor of the appellants represented by Mr. Berman.  Citizens Against Slots at the Mall, et al. v. PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC, […]
June 3, 2010

Arundel Slots Trial Ends

The Baltimore Sun reported on the seven-day hearing on the “slots” referendum in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, reporting that: “Michael Berman, an attorney for the community group, said the board [of elections] used ‘evenhanded, reasonable decision-making’ and that further examination of the carefully completed process would ‘disenfranchise voters based on […]
May 26, 2010

Berman’s Objections to Proffered Evidence Sustained

On May 26, 2010, the Maryland Daily Record reported that Judge “Silkworth granted lawyer Michael Berman’s objections to both types of testimony, saying the line of questioning was beyond the scope of his inquiry into Cordish’s legal challenge to the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections’ approval of the petition drive. [Judge] […]
May 25, 2010

Berman Rebuts Opponent’s Argument

When opponents of the referendum petition argued that CASM is a “non-existent entity” created by the jockey club to disguise its involvement in the petition drive, they said:  “It [CASM] was a deception to the prospective signers.” Michael Berman, arguing for CASM and others, responded:  “I am here representing the non-existent entity […]
April 16, 2010

Trial Court Argument on Slots Referendum

On April 16, the Annapolis Capital reported that Michael D. Berman argued in favor of a referendum petition and stated that the challenge “seeks to chill and taint the ongoing election campaign,’ said attorney Michael Berman, who represents Citizens Against Slots at The Mall, one of the groups formed to push the petition […]