On May 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Antitrust Division approved Constellation Brands Inc.’s (“Constellation”) and Crown Imports LLC’s (“Crown”) request to use predictive coding to determine which documents were most relevant and responsive to the DOJ’s requests. Constellation is a potential buyer of assets from the huge AB InBev-Grupo Modelo merger, and Crown is a joint venture between Grupo Modelo and Constellation. Reportedly, Constellation and Crown identified in excess of one million documents that would require manual review before being handed over to the Justice Department for scrutiny. After several seed sets were run using the automated data review software and compared manually, DOJ was satisfied that the predictive coding software would identify the most relevant documents and approved its use. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the predictive coding software used by the parties was developed by kCura Corporation, a software vendor for many entities including DOJ.
New York State Courts Look to Adopt Rules Requiring Parties to Discuss E-Discovery at the Outset of Litigation
The E-Discovery Working Group has recommended changes to the New York State Court rules concerning e-discovery that would significantly expand litigants’ obligations to confer concerning anticipated e-discovery issues. Currently, only the rules that govern cases pending before the Commercial Division require that parties confer about expected e-discovery issues at the outset of a litigation. (See Section 202.70 Rule 8 of the Uniform Rules). The E-Discovery Working Group has not only recommended that this rule be expanded to include all New York State Courts, but also to provide specific guidance concerning what e-discovery issues ought to be discussed by the parties. These issues include identifying potentially relevant categories of data and relevant computer servers, implementing measures to preserve relevant information, agreeing to procedures for parties to recall any privileged information that they provide by accident and discussing the likely cost and allocation of e-discovery between the parties.
Leveling the E-Discovery Playing Field: Court Shifts Costs to Putative Class Action Plaintiffs Prior to Class Certification
In a case of first impression, a federal judge in Pennsylvania shifted the costs of e-discovery to the plaintiffs in a putative class action before deciding the issue of class certification. Addressing concerns of fairness to defendants in class actions, particularly given that the parties’ respective discovery burdens are “asymmetrical,” the Court held that the plaintiffs should bear the costs arising from their extensive discovery requests. The Court also considered the role of plaintiffs’ counsel as a participant in the process, noting that the plaintiffs are represented by a “very successful and well regarded” class action law firm and reasoning that if the plaintiffs “have confidence in their contention that the Court should certify the class, then plaintiffs and their lawyers should have no objection to making an investment.” Boeynaems v. LA Fitness Int’l, LLC.
Race to the High Court: Hoosier Racing Seeks High Court Review of Third Circuit’s Slashing of E-Discovery Cost Award
The skyrocketing costs of e-discovery in modern day litigation will now be getting at least some attention from the nation’s highest court. Not long ago we reported on a decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to slash recovery of costs by a prevailing party under 28 U.S.C. §1920 in Race Tires America, Inc., et al. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corporation et al., No. 11-2316 (3d Cir. Mar. 16, 2012). In Race Tires, the Third Circuit, while acknowledging a spilt in the circuits, held that costs sought and awarded under §1920 must bear a reasonable connection to duplication of materials in the traditional sense to be recoverable by a prevailing party. Thus, certain e-discovery vendor activities — including conversion of the native files to TIFF images, the scanning of documents for the purpose of creating digital duplicates and the copying of the videos to DVD — could be reimbursed under the statute, while others, like consultant’s charges for data collection, preservation, searching, culling, conversion, and production, could not.
If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that the Monique da Silva Moore, et al. v. Publicis Groupe SA and MSL Group case, in which Magistrate Judge Peck authored the first opinion approving the use of predictive coding, is very contentious. You can read our latest entries discussing this controversial case from March 2 and May 16. It appears there is no sign the tension will abate anytime soon.
Predictive Coding Upheld by District Court: Judge Carter Endorses Judge Peck’s Approval of Computer-Assisted ESI Review
On March 2, 2012, we reported on Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck’s February 24, 2012 decision in Monique Da Silva Moore, et al., v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group, Civ. No. 11-1279 (ALC)(AJP) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2012), wherein Judge Peck issued the first judicial opinion approving the use of predictive coding “in appropriate cases.” On April 25, 2012, District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. rejected plaintiffs’ bid to overturn that decision, and cleared the way for the use of computer-assisted ESI review in this case and others.
Not So Fast: Race Tires Court Gives a Flat to Momentum for Broad ESI Cost Shifting Under 28 U.S.C. §1920
A Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel, including the Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie, one of the leading judicial authorities in e-discovery, has spoken — e-discovery-related cost recovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1920 has limits; the costs must bear a reasonable connection to duplication of materials in the traditional sense to be recoverable by a prevailing party. As the first United States Court of Appeals decision to directly address this closely watched issue, this opinion may disarm a potentially powerful weapon in the already limited arsenal of parties burdened with excessive e-discovery costs.
Who’s Paying For This? First Department Requires the Producing Party to Initially Bear the Costs of Production in U.S. Bank N.A. v. GreenPoint Mtge. Funding, Inc.
For the second time this year, New York’s First Department, Appellate Division, has adopted e-discovery standards articulated in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 220 FRD 212 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). On January 31, 2012, the First Department’s decision in Voom H.D. Holdings LLC v. EchoStar Satellite LLC, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 00658 (1st Dep’t 2012) adopted the Zubulake standard concerning when a party’s preservation obligations are triggered. Read a blog posting on the Voom decision here. Most recently, on February 28, 2012 the First Department held in U.S. Bank N.A. v. GreenPoint Mtge. Funding, Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op. 01515 (1st Dep’t 2012), that, consistent with Voom’s “adopt[ion] [of] the standards articulated by [Zubulake] in the context of preservation and spoliation, [it was] persuaded that Zubulake should be the rule in this department, requiring the producing party to bear the cost of production to be modified by the IAS court in the exercise of its discretion on a proper motion by the producing party.”
Play Nice or Pay the Price: Failing to Cooperate in Creating Preservation Protocols Can Result in Significant Consequences
The dual issues of over-preservation and proportionality took center stage in a recent Southern District of New York class and collective action litigation, leading to a Magistrate’s opinion in Pippins v. KPMG, No. 11-377 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2011), and a District Court’s affirmance in Pippins v. KPMG, Civ. No. 11-377 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2012), which are sending shock waves through the e-discovery community. The effect of those shock waves here is particularly acute for FLSA and other employment-related class action defendants where the targeted company often possesses and controls ESI pertaining to sometimes thousands of potential plaintiffs.
Late last year, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, one of the most prominent judicial thought leaders in e-discovery, wrote an article entitled Search, Forward in which he opined that computer-assisted ESI review “should be used where it will help ‘secure the just, speedy and inexpensive’ (Fed. R. Civ. P. 1) determination of cases”, but he forecast that lawyers awaiting a judicial opinion endorsing predictive coding might have “a long wait.” As it turns out, the wait wasn’t very long at all; on Friday, February 24, 2012, less than 6 months after the publication of his article, Judge Peck himself issued the first judicial opinion approving the use of predictive coding “in appropriate cases.”