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Don’t Ask For Too Much: Court Strikes Balance in Addressing Dispute Over Discoverability of Social Media

Don’t Ask For Too Much: Court Strikes Balance in Addressing Dispute Over Discoverability of Social Media

In a recent case, Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming reminds practitioners that requests for social media data still must be relevant and proportional to the dispute. In this auto accident case, the Court found a balance between the need for defendants to determine whether a plaintiff is lying or exaggerating and the possibility that allowing defendants too much leeway in seeking social media could dissuade injured plaintiffs from pursuing legitimate claims for fear of humiliation and embarrassment. Plaintiff alleged she sustained physical injuries, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. In an extraordinarily broad discovery request, defendant requested that plaintiff produce “an electronic copy of your Facebook account history.” Plaintiff downloaded and produced information from her Facebook accounts gathered by using several keyword search terms. However, plaintiff refused to produce her entire Facebook archive, and defendant moved to compel. The Court explained that “[s]ocial media presents some unique challenges to courts” in determining the proper scope of discovery. In particular, Judge Carman explained: “People have always shared thoughts and feelings, but typically not in such a permanent and easily retrievable format. No court would have allowed unlimited...

Signs of Life?  – Judge Francis Opines that “Inherent Authority” to Sanction Spoliation Related Conduct Survives Amended Rule 37(e) 0

Signs of Life? – Judge Francis Opines that “Inherent Authority” to Sanction Spoliation Related Conduct Survives Amended Rule 37(e)

In perhaps the first published decision since the amended Federal Rules took effect on December 6, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV, a preeminent judicial e-discovery authority, relied upon amended Rule 37(e) and, somewhat controversially, his inherent authority, to sanction a litigant for evidence tampering and spoliation. The opinion is significant, not solely because it invokes the newly-minted rule, but because it interprets amended Rule 37(e) as not foreclosing the court’s inherent authority as a viable alternative to sanction spoliation-related conduct that may not strictly satisfy the new Rule’s elements.

Adverse Inference Instruction Warranted For Insurer’s Breach of Retention Policy 0

Adverse Inference Instruction Warranted For Insurer’s Breach of Retention Policy

It should come as no surprise that litigants continue to ignore such basic discovery obligations as the duty to preserve potentially relevant documents once litigation is reasonably anticipated. A recent case out of the Northern District of New York exemplifies the importance of patience in establishing a record of discovery abuses, including data deletion, before seeking sanctions to address such situations.

New Jersey District Judge Upholds Sanctions for Camden County’s Grossly Negligent Litigation Hold Procedures 0

New Jersey District Judge Upholds Sanctions for Camden County’s Grossly Negligent Litigation Hold Procedures

On March 21, 2012, New Jersey District Judge Noel Hillman upheld Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio’s ruling against Camden County, New Jersey (the “County”) for spoliation of evidence in an insurance dispute arising out of injuries to a motorist on a county road. State National Insurance Co. v. County of Camden, 08-cv-5128 (D.N.J. March 21, 2012). Judge Hillman’s March 21, 2012, decision addresses the County’s appeal of a June 30, 2011, decision of Judge Donio granting State National Insurance Company’s (“State National”) motion regarding the County’s failure to preserve electronically stored information (“ESI”). Specifically, the County failed to institute a litigation hold, to disable its automatic email deletion program, and to preserve copies of its backup tapes after litigation was commenced.

In re Facebook Privacy Litigation – Uphill Battle for Plaintiffs 0

In re Facebook Privacy Litigation – Uphill Battle for Plaintiffs

In a recent case in California, Facebook account holders filed a putative class action lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that Facebook knowingly forwarded personal information to online advertisers without its users’ consent. In In re Facebook Privacy Litigation, Plantiffs asserted eight causes of action against Facebook, including violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510, et seq. and various California laws (both statutory and common law), and all were dismissed.

Caution to Anonymous Internet Posters – Your Cover Might Be Blown 0

Caution to Anonymous Internet Posters – Your Cover Might Be Blown

Next time you consider posting something on the Internet, think again as your identity could be revealed! Under the presumed cloak of anonymity, individuals often throw caution to the wind and voice controversial and unfiltered views on the Internet. Based upon a recent ruling by an Indiana State Court in a defamation case, however, the rules of engagement on the Internet may have changed.

Blind CCs and “Replies to All” – An Email Trap for the Unwary Attorney 0

Blind CCs and “Replies to All” – An Email Trap for the Unwary Attorney

Some traditional practices from the paper era don’t translate well to the world of e-communication. And some are downright dangerous. Back in the day, attorneys would often “bcc” their clients on correspondence to adversaries, an efficient and relatively safe means of keeping the client apprised. No longer in the age of email, where the ability to instantly respond invites quick, at times reactionary, replies that can easily fall into the wrong hands, with potentially devastating consequences.

“Cached” Web Files May Serve as Evidence in Child Pornography Case 0

“Cached” Web Files May Serve as Evidence in Child Pornography Case

In a prosecution for promoting and possessing computer images of child pornography, a Brooklyn appellate panel upheld the conviction of defendant and determined that temporary files automatically “cached” by an internet browser may serve as evidence of promoting and possessing child pornography. People v. Kent, ___ A.D.3d ___, 2010 N.Y. Slip. Op. 7364, 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 7405 (App. Div. 2d Dept. Oct. 12, 2010). The defendant, a professor of public administration at a Dutchess County college, was found guilty of 134 counts of possession of a sexual performance and 2 counts of promotion related to his use of an office computer.

The 2010 E-Discovery Landscape:  Panel Discussion on the Essential E-Discovery Decisions of 2010 at Gibbons Fourth Annual E-Discovery Conference 0

The 2010 E-Discovery Landscape: Panel Discussion on the Essential E-Discovery Decisions of 2010 at Gibbons Fourth Annual E-Discovery Conference

Gibbons’ Fourth Annual E-Discovery Conference kicked off with a panel discussion on the essential e-discovery decisions from 2010. The panel, comprised of renowned e-discovery authority Michael Arkfeld of Arkfeld & Associates, Scott J. Etish, Esq., an associate at Gibbons and member of the firm’s E-Discovery Task Force, and the Hon. John J. Hughes, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey (Retired), addressed numerous recent decisions related to the following areas: (1) the need for outside and inside counsel to monitor compliance; (2) obtaining electronically stored information from foreign companies; (3) cooperation between adverse parties; (4) social media discovery; (5) searches and inadvertently disclosed privilege documents; and (6) legal holds and sanctions. The panel provided guidance as to best practices related to numerous areas, including navigating e-discovery challenges in the aftermath of the seminal Pension Committee, Rimkus and Victor Stanley II decisions. A brief summary of all of the cases the panel discussed is available here, and a copy of the PowerPoint slides the panel used is available here.