Self Preservation

Preservation by a litigant or potential litigant.

January 19, 2024

“Self-Collection” May Be Reasonable Using Ralph Losey’s Dual-Protection System

“Self-collection” is often viewed as prohibited.  Abraham Maslow said that: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” This blog addresses a methodology designed by Ralph Losey, Esq., through which self-collection may be defensible.  At bottom, Ralph[1] […]
December 29, 2023

My Top Blogs From 2023

I posted 104 items this year.  Several that may be worth re-reading are: How to Read a Load File More on “Modern Attachments,” “Pointers,” or Hyperlinked Documents – Humpty Dumpty and “Usability” Possession, Custody, or Control – Part II Don’t Be Too Nice When You Send a Preservation Notice Relevance Redactions Revisited […]
December 6, 2023

Sedona Conference’s 2023 Case Law Bibliography by Phil Favro

As we approach the end of the year, it is an appropriate time to review Philip J. Favro, ed., Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2023  (The Sedona Conf. 2023). Phil’s publication is an annual event.  Book Review:  Phil Favro’s “Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2022-23″;  Sedona Conference “Selected […]
November 21, 2023

Is it Spoliation to Bury a Dead Cow?

In Duggins v. Haapala, 2023 WL 7627823 (Apls. Ct. Md. Nov. 15, 2023)(unreported), the intermediate appellate Court addressed whether it was spoliation to bury a dead cow that had been involved in an auto accident.  By the time suit was filed, two years had passed and the location of the burial spot […]
October 4, 2023

Bob Dylan Awarded Discovery Sanctions After Dismissal of Tort Claims

“The Court awards sanctions in the amount of $5,000 against [Attorney No. 1] and $3,000 against [Attorney No. 2], payable to” Bob Dylan.  J.C. v. Robert A. Zimmerman a/k/a Bob Dylan, 2023 WL 6308493, at *12 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2023); P. Hayes, Bob Dylan Awarded Sanctions in Dismissed Sexual Assault Case (bloomberglaw.com)(Sept. […]
May 23, 2023

Fowler Cell Phone Decision Affirmed

In Fowler v. Tenth Planet, Inc., 2023 WL 2691576 (D. Md. Mar. 29, 2023)(Coulson, J.)(“Fowler I”), the Magistrate Judge wrote that preservation of a cell phone “in place” may be acceptable in some instances, but made clear that it is risky.  Plaintiff had not backed up his cell phone.  He left it […]
May 7, 2023

ESI 101:  Don’t Spoliate Evidence That’s Been Photographed

The key takeaway from G.H. Le Doux v. Western Express, Inc., 2023 WL 2842777 (W.D. Va. Apr. 7, 2023), is don’t spoliate evidence when your opponent has a photograph of it. While the Le Doux defendant “succeeded in destroying a considerable amount of ESI,” in the words of The Hon. Paul W. […]
April 26, 2023

Court Holds That Federal Spoliation Rules Are Both Independent and Interrelated in Cell Phone Sanctions Case

In Doe v. Willis, 2023 WL 2918507 (M.D. Fl. Apr. 12, 2023), the plaintiff’s lawyer imposed an oral legal hold, telling her that she should not delete texts, throw away evidence, or post anything on Facebook, and: “That’s about it.”  The instructions were not memorialized in a writing.  Subsequently, the plaintiff dropped […]
April 6, 2023

Candor Pays Off When It Comes to Alleged Spoliation: Notice + Accrual = Claims Bar

Nicassio v. XYZ Law Firm, 2023 WL 2661156 (Apls. Ct. Md. Mar. 28, 2023)(unreported), demonstrates the wisdom of candor when it comes to potential spoliation.[1] It also reinforces the well-established need to periodically remind custodians of their duty to preserve potentially responsive information. Litigation often drags on long after issuance of an […]
March 15, 2023

Sua Sponte Dismissal Relying in Part on Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)

In Gunter v. Alutiiq Advanced Security Systems, LLC, 2023 WL 2330707 (D. Md. Mar. 2, 2023)(Rubin, J.), the Court relied in part on Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) to dismiss a litigant’s lawsuit for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The case involved egregious[1] misconduct that included fraud on the Court, […]
March 3, 2023

Concerns About Family Privacy Don’t Justify Spoliation

In 360 Security Partners, LLC v. Hammond, 2023 WL 1869633 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 9, 2023), a defendant tried to justify wiping a company laptop by asserting privacy concerns.  The court did not accept that excuse.  Instead, it sanctioned the defendant. Defendant Hammond was the former CEO of the plaintiff.  Plaintiff terminated Hammond […]
February 22, 2023

Procedural Failures in Request to Preserve Video Evidence

In Nolan v. Secretary of Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services, No. 1181 (Appellate Court of Md. Feb. 8, 2023)(unreported),[1] Nolan appealed from denial of a “Motion for Injunction” to preserve certain video evidence. The circuit court denied the motion because it had dismissed the case three months earlier. The Appellate […]
December 26, 2022

Should Carl Little, Jr., Have Won His Appeal Challenging Denial of a Spoliation Instruction?

In Little v. Pohanka, 2022 WL 17412861 (Appellate Ct. of Md. Dec. 5, 2022), Mr. Little sued Mr. Pohanka for negligent driving.  The jury found that Mr. Pohanka was negligent; however, in Maryland, contributory negligence is a complete defense, and the jury determined that Mr. Little was contributorily negligent.  As a result, […]
December 16, 2022

Managing Small Cases – Excellent Sedona Conference Resource

The Sedona Conference recently published a public comment version of its “Primer on Managing Electronic Discovery in Small Cases” (Dec. 2022). There has long been an interest in low-cost technology. For example, two decades ago, I wrote “Low Cost Litigation Technology” (Md. Bar Journal Nov./Dec. 2000).  Similarly, Craig Ball has blogged about […]
September 8, 2022

Missing Text Messages Shown By Third-Party Production & Responsive Texts

An article by Jef Feeley, Judge Slams Musk for Mishandling Records in Twitter Fight (1) (bloomberglaw.com) (Sept. 7, 2022), states that Delaware Chancery Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick found “glaring deficiencies” in Elon Musk’s production of text messages in discovery. The article states: “Third parties produced text messages with Musk that Musk himself did […]
August 15, 2022

Is There a Duty to “’Fess Up?”

Several Fourth Circuit, District of Maryland, and Maryland intermediate appellate decisions stand for the proposition that, where a potential litigant is unable to comply with the duty to preserve potentially responsive information, the potential litigant has a duty to notify the anticipated opponent before the information goes missing. For example: I have […]
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 9, 2022

“Navigating Social Media Discovery: Steps Counsel Can Take to Address Mass Deletion of Social Media History”

An interesting post by Phillip Favro, The Hon. Helen Adams, and Leslie Behaunek, Navigating Social Media Discovery: Steps Counsel Can Take to Address Mass Deletion of Social Media History – Innovative Driven (id-edd.com) (June 1, 2022), describes tools provided by Instagram and Facebook that users may employ to delete material posted 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 […]
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 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 11, 2022

No Sanction Despite Convoluted and Murky Explanation for Missing Texts

In Hale v. Mayor & City Co. of Baltimore City, 2022 WL 374512 (D. Md. Feb. 8, 2022), the Court denied a request for sanctions in the summary judgment context despite a “convoluted and murky” explanation for missing text messages.  The Court described the missing texts as “the primary basis of [plaintiff’s] […]
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 […]
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 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 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 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 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 […]
March 24, 2021

Using Digital Forensics to Protect Trade Secrets

Misappropriation of trade secrets cases are increasingly digital. For example, a former employer may seek discovery of a new employer’s information.  As discussed in “The Gang That Couldn’t Spoliate Straight,” forensic analysis is often necessary.  Craig Ball’s post, “What’s in a Name (or Hash Value)?” discussed some forensic options. A recent American […]
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 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 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 […]
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 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 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 […]
November 27, 2020

Rule 26(g) Sanctions for Failure to Supervise Document Collection and Review

In Optronic Tech, Inc. v. Ningbo Sunny Elec. Co., Ltd., 2020 WL 2838806 (N.D. Cal. June 1, 2020), sanctions were imposed against defense counsel, essentially because the court determined that trial counsel had attempted to hand off their Rule 26(g) obligations to their client’s inside counsel. There were several key points.  Defense […]
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. […]
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 […]