Discoverability

Scope of discovery.

September 26, 2022

Pouncing on Little Ambiguities Leads to Discovery Sanctions

A recent ABA article describes a court sanctioning a litigant for pouncing on “any little ambiguity” to obstruct discovery and delay production of “obviously responsive materials.”  Debra Cassens Weiss, Judge criticizes [law firm name omitted] and [litigant’s name omitted] for alleged effort to ‘obstruct and delay’ discovery (abajournal.com) (Sep. 16, 2022).  According […]
September 7, 2022

Isn’t It Time for a Uniform National Standard on “Possession, Custody, or Control”?

In civil discovery, litigants must produce information that is within their “possession, custody, or control,” subject to the applicable scope of discovery.  However, federal courts have markedly differing definitions of “possession, custody, or control.”  A uniform standard would further the goal of the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of many lawsuits. Mike […]
August 14, 2022

Hit Reports

“Hit reports” have various names.[1]  One issue that has often arisen is whether a producing party must produce every document on a hit report requested by an opponent, even if irrelevant or nonresponsive to discovery requests.  Craig Ball has blogged on this issue since 2013.  However, his recent blog explains that “the […]
August 12, 2022

“Modern Attachments” or “Pointers”- What is a Document? (Part IV)

  I have written a series of blogs on What is a Document? (Part III),  What is a Document? (Part II), and What is a “Document?” In those blogs, I pointed to issues that may be presented by, for example, text bubbles, spreadsheet cells, Excel workbooks with multiple worksheets, PDF Portfolios, and […]
August 8, 2022

Court Refuses to Select Search Terms for Parties

In Deal Genius, LLC v. O2 Cool, LLC, 2022 WL 874690, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 24, 2022), the court was faced with two parties that failed to cooperate concerning discovery of ESI, including design of search terms.  The court wrote: It should go without saying that months of arguing over five […]
August 7, 2022

Court Excused Party From Waiver by Failure to Provide Specific Objections

In Doma Title Ins., Inc. v. Avance Title, LLC, 2022 WL 2668530 (D. Md. Jul. 11, 2022)(Quereshi, J.), the Court addressed a motion to compel discovery in a breach of contract action. The Court held that defendant’s discovery objections were too general; however, on the facts presented, including the manner in which […]
August 4, 2022

Proposed Changes to the Maryland Rules Regarding Discovery of Experts

The Maryland Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure has issued its 211th Report and proposed rules changes. One of the most significant proposals is to modify Rule 2-402 to follow the 2010 amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 regarding expert discovery.  The Committee explained: In 2010, the Federal Rule was amended to […]
August 4, 2022

“Sandy Hook lawyers say Alex Jones’s attorneys accidentally gave them his phone contents”

Brittany Shammas and Kim Bellware reported that Alex Jones attorneys accidentally gave up his phone’s contents, Sandy Hook lawyers say – The Washington Post  (Aug. 3, 2022). The Post reports that: The legal team representing Infowars founder Alex Jones inadvertently sent the contents of his cellphone to a lawyer representing the parents of […]
July 16, 2022

Denial of Discovery to Oppose Motion for Summary Judgment

In Markel Ins. Co. v. Sumpter, 2022 WL 2703832 (D. Md. July 11, 2022)(Hazel, J.), the Court denied a request for discovery to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Markel Insurance defended an alleged auto tort under a reservation of rights.  It then filed this action against both drivers for a declaration […]
July 15, 2022

Use of Phased Discovery to Achieve Proportionality

In Guzman v. KP StoneyMill, Inc., 2022 WL 1748308 (D. Md. May 31, 2022)(Quereshi, J.), a single plaintiff sued his employer for alleged FLSA violations.  The Court addressed a number of discovery issues.[1] The case provides a textbook example of the use of phased discovery to achieve proportionality. Plaintiff had worked for the defendants […]
July 13, 2022

Failed Request for a Preservation Order

In Gibson v. Frederick County, MD, 2022 WL 2593710 (D. Md. Jul. 6, 2022), the Court denied a request for a preservation order that was made in the form of a motion for a temporary restraining order.  Plaintiffs sought an order to preserve certain information after expiration of a statutory preservation mandate […]
June 14, 2022

Discovery on Discovery – Steps Taken to Produce Documents

Josh Gilliland recently posted an excellent blog about an interesting discovery case in Failure to Launch a Protective Order to Stop a 30(b)(6) on Responding to Requests for Production – Bow Tie Law.   As Josh explained, the court in that case permitted discovery of the “method and manner used” to identify the documents produced […]
June 14, 2022

FLSA Litigant Cannot Refuse to Provide Relevant Discovery Merely Because It May Open the Responding Party Up to Other Liability

In Guzman v. KP StoneyMill, Inc., 2022 WL 1748308 (D. Md. May 31, 2022)(Quereshi, J.), a single plaintiff sued his employer for alleged FLSA violations.  The Court addressed a number of discovery issues.  This blog focuses on one of them – defendants’ assertion that it need not provide discovery because doing so […]
June 2, 2022

Historical ESI Highlights – Part X – Dec. 2015 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

As described in the initial blog in this series, the “ESI Amendments” to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect in December 2006.  And, as Judge Facciola explained “[I]t is startling how small the changes to the 2006 rules really are. Anyone looking for a revolution in civil procedure will […]
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 […]
April 29, 2022

Discovery on Discovery

A “Gibbons Law Alert,” B. Basso, Keeping the Curtain Closed: Connecticut District Court Denies Discovery on Discovery Where No Basis to Claim Deficiencies Shown – Gibbons Law Alert (Apr. 28, 2022), describes a recent “discovery on discovery” decision. Gibbons describes plaintiff’s discovery request for defendant to “identify all electronic devices ‘used … to transmit documents […]
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 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 […]
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 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 5, 2022

Are Litigation Hold Notices Discoverable?

The debate over discoverability of litigation hold notices continues. I recently wrote on this topic in  When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable? — When a Litigation Hold is Defective and When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable? A different approach to hold notices was recently suggested in an ABA article by […]
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 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 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 18, 2021

Proportionality Analysis in Vanessa Bryant’s Emotional Distress Case

In a lawsuit seeking emotional distress damages arising out of events following the January 26, 2020, death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, the court held that some of his widow’s more recent therapy records were relevant and discoverable.  However, the cost of discovery of older records was held to be disproportionate, […]
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). […]
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 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 9, 2021

District of Maryland Applies Narrower Scope of Discovery of Social Media in “Garden Variety” Emotional Distress Cases

The District of Maryland has drawn a sharp distinction between discovery of social media posts in physical impairment cases, “garden variety” emotional distress cases, and “severe and specific” emotional distress cases.  See Blog, “District of Maryland Clarifies Rules Governing Discovery of Social Media.” The scope of discovery of social media in physical […]
August 8, 2021

District of Maryland Clarifies Rules Governing Discovery of Social Media

In Allen v. PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC, __ F.Supp.3d __, 2021 WL 2434404 (D. Md. Jun. 14, 2021), and Gaske v. Crabcake Factory Seafood House, LLC, 2021 WL 3188007 (D. Md. Jul. 28, 2021), the Honorable J. Mark Coulson described the principles governing discovery of social media.  Both decisions involved employment […]
July 27, 2021

Where Producing Party Represents That It Fulfilled Its Duty to Produce, a Motion to Compel Additional Production Cannot Be Based on Speculation

Weidman v. Ford Motor Co., 2021 WL 2349400 (E.D. Mich. Jun. 9, 2021), involved a suit for alleged brake defects.  Near the end of discovery, plaintiff moved to compel further searches by Ford.  The motion was denied. The Weidman court provided a comprehensive discussion of the December 2015 amendments to the Federal […]
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 […]
July 19, 2021

Facebook: Deactivation v. Deletion; Authentication With Native Files; and, Searching

As one of the most popular social media sites, Facebook is the subject of numerous ESI cases.  Three recent decisions address deactivation v. deletion, the value of native Facebook files when authentication is disputed, and the search for responsive information. DEACTIVATION OR DELETION? Brown v. SSA Atlantic, LLC, 2021 WL 1015891 (S.D.Ga. […]
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 […]
March 6, 2021

Rules Matter: A “Perry Mason Moment” Was Derailed by a Discovery Violation

Black v. New England Computer Svcs., Inc., 2021 WL 822319 (D. Conn. Mar. 4, 2021), demonstrates the importance of following court disclosure rules and protocols.  The value of critical evidence was blunted by a failure to do so. “The practice of law may be poetically likened to sailing a ship. Constitutions, case […]
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 4, 2021

Requests for “Any and All” Documents Are Obsolete

In the ancient year of 2009, Gil Greenman and James Weingarten, of Williams & Connolly LLP, wrote “Beware the Use of Absolute Language Regarding Electronically Stored Information,” 9 Digital Discovery and e-Evidence 11 (BNA Nov. 1, 2009). Their thesis was simple and correct: “All,” “any,” and “every” are dangerous words when describing […]
January 13, 2021

Application of Maryland’s Evidentiary “Unfriending” Rule to Recent Events?

The Baltimore Sun reports that:  “In Maryland and beyond, those who once bragged about overrunning the Capitol are now deleting their [social media] photos ….” T. Prudente, “As scrutiny intensifies over deadly U.S. Capitol riots, Marylanders delete photos, social media trails,” The Baltimore Sun (Jan. 12, 2021). That alleged action may have […]
January 2, 2021

Unsupervised Self-Collection Predictably Led to Problems

In Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n. v M1 5100 Corp, 2020 WL 3581372 (S.D. Fl. July 2, 2020), unsupervised self-collection by a client created a situation that “greatly troubles and concerns the Court.”  There, an attorney permitted the client to determine what ESI it would search for and produce.  This process ran afoul […]
December 26, 2020

Discovery of the Identity of a Person Associated With an I.P. Address

UPDATE:  on  August 10, 2021, the Court issued an opinion in Strike3 Holdings, LLC v. John Doe, 2021 WL 3511124 (D. Md. Aug. 10, 2021). ***** In Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. John Doe, 2020 WL 7640943 (D. Md. Dec. 23, 2020), the Court authorized, but only in a strictly limited way, […]
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 […]
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 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. […]
June 30, 2011

Proportionality in Government e-Discovery – June 2011 IQPC Presentation

Government litigants have an enormous impact on civil litigation. Because the United States is the most frequent and successful litigant in the federal courts, the federal government as a litigant plays “a central role in the development of law and policy in the United States courts.” G. Sisk, Litigation with the Federal […]