Every now and then, a court issues a decision that is as interesting for its facts as it is for the import of its legal holding. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued such a decision involving application of the respective statutes of limitation for private claims made under the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”).
Author: Paul E. Asfendis
Two recent spoliation decisions, both out of the same New York Court and issued within a week of each other, demonstrate the potential for starkly different sanctions results depending on the level of culpability of the spoliator. AJ Holdings Group, LLC, v. IP Holdings, LLC, Index No. 600530/2009 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County, September 19, 2014) and L&L Painting Co., Inc. v. Odyssey Contracting Corp., 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4300 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County, September 25, 2014) are both breach of contract actions in which plaintiffs were accused of spoliating evidence.
The Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) prohibits internet service providers from disclosing the “content” of electronic communications. What constitutes “content” of an electronic communication? It may be easier to rephrase the question: What doesn’t constitute content? According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the answer is: very little.
New York state court practitioners need to be increasingly mindful about their e-discovery obligations. Although Congress and the federal courts have largely blazed the e-discovery trail to date, e-discovery issues are slowly but surely being addressed at the state level as well. Recently, New York’s Electronic Discovery Working Group selected Part 48 of the Commercial Division of the State Supreme Court in New York County (currently run by Justice Jeffrey K. Oing) to participate in a pilot program to utilize a new Electronic Discovery Order (“EDO”) form.
In a recent decision out of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a spoliator’s worst fears were recognized when the Court dismissed its entire Complaint as a sanction for failing to preserve electronic evidence. The decision, 915 Broadway Associates, LLC, v. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP, 2012 NY Slip. Op. 50285U (N.Y. Sup. February 16, 2012), is instructive in its clear statement and analysis of New York’s spoliation law and its demonstration of the Court’s willingness to impose the ultimate spoliation sanction where warranted.
“Anonymous” copyright infringers — in this case the downloaders of a pornographic video — should take note of a recent decision. In what is becoming increasingly common, a court was recently asked by a copyright holder to issue an order requiring non-party Internet Service Providers (“ISP”) to identify individual Internet users for purposes of filing a copyright lawsuit against them pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.
In a rare New York State appellate decision concerning e-discovery, the First Department took the opportunity to address claims by a subpoenaed nonparty of inaccessibility of electronically stored information (ESI). The case, Tener v. Cremer, 2011 N.Y. Slip op. 6543 (1st Dep’t 2011), involved an alleged defamatory post originating from one of New York University’s computers. Plaintiff served NYU with a subpoena seeking identification of persons who accessed the Internet on a certain date via a certain IP address.
As was recently reported in the New York Law Journal, one of the issues for discussion at the recent annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association this January was the need for more uniformity, and possibly even a bright-line rule, to govern issues of document preservation. This was the focus of a panel including two New York State Supreme Court justices and three federal judges from the Southern District of New York – District Judge Shira Scheindlin and Magistrate Judges Andrew Peck and James Francis.
That was the lesson of a recent case out of the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, where the court refused to order a forensic examination of a plaintiff’s personal computer hard drive. DeRiggi v. Krischen arose out of the death of a woman during a routine surgical procedure to treat lower back pain. Plaintiffs alleged that her death was the result of perforation of the left common iliac vein by a “Spine Jet HydroDisectomy” system utilized during the procedure. Plaintiffs further alleged, among other things, that the manufacturer of the system misrepresented the risks affiliated with its use, and one of the plaintiffs, the decedent’s husband, testified at deposition that he and his wife visited the manufacturer’s website prior to the surgery and read that the procedure “felt like a bee sting and nothing more.”
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.