Tag Archives: FRCP

New FRCP Rule 37(e) Calls Out Importance of Social Media Evidence

By John Patzakis

A new version of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e) FRCP bookgoes into effect December 1, 2015, barring an unexpected act of Congress to amend or rescind the changes. Proposed rule 37(e), features a new title: “Failure to Preserve Electronically Stored Information,” and replaces the current subpart in its entirety, providing a uniform standard to resolve a split in case law among different Judicial circuits concerning serious ESI spoliation sanctions. Rule 37(e) will be the only Federal civil rule section addressing the duty to preserve ESI and thus serves as key guidance governing eDiscovery collection and preservation efforts.

Proposed Rule 37(e) is accompanied by official Committee Advisory notes. Judges and counsel refer to these Advisory notes to provide guidance and insight concerning the intent of the laws and how they should be applied. The Advisory notes are published alongside the statute and are in fact widely seen as an extension of the FRCP. The Advisory notes for new proposed Rule 37(e) include the following key section:

Another factor in evaluating the reasonableness of preservation efforts is proportionality. The court should be sensitive to party resources; aggressive preservation efforts can be extremely costly, and parties (including governmental parties) may have limited staff and resources to devote to those efforts. A party may act reasonably by choosing a less costly form of information preservation, if it is substantially as effective as more costly forms. It is important that counsel become familiar with their clients’ information systems and digital data — including social media — to address these issues (emphasis added).

This reference to social media is particularly notable as it is included in very important guidance concerning overall ESI preservation requirements.  The implication of the new law is clear:  social evidence is given at least equal weight and import as other forms of ESI such as email and documents. As an aside, the Advisory notes to the 2006 Federal Rules Amendments, specifically for Rule 37(f)  state: “When a party is under a duty to preserve information because of pending or reasonably anticipated litigation, intervention in the routine operation of an information system is one aspect of what is often called a ‘litigation hold.’”

Due in large part as a result of this mention, legal holds quickly became a core eDiscovery requirement, with an entire sub-industry spawned.  So there is no question that the Advisory notes are highly influential.

It is notable that social media evidence is already a core component of eDiscovery evidence collection efforts by most lawyers and practitioners.  Recently, the global law firm Gibson Dunn released their influential 2015 Mid-Year eDiscovery and Information Law Update. In a section dedicated to social media, the Gibson Dunn update reports that “the use of social media continues to proliferate in business and social contexts, and that its importance is increasing in litigation, the number of cases focusing on the discovery of social media continued to skyrocket in the first half of 2015.”

And as succinctly noted by The Florida Bar Association in its publication, Florida Law Journal, “Social Media Evidence: What You Can’t use Won’t Help You” (2014) Volume 88, No. 1:

“Social media is everywhere. Nearly everyone uses it. Litigants who understand social media–and its benefits and limitations– can immeasurably help their clients resolve disputes. If not properly researched, preserved, and authenticated, the best social media evidence is worthless.”

And:

“Social networking sites have grown from a few thousand users to more than a billion. These sites have become a preferred form of electronic communication, surpassing email in 2009. As of March 31, 2011, 9,370,620 Floridians had registered for a Facebook account, which is approximately half of the state’s population. Based on these statistics, it is inevitable that the social media accounts of at least one person involved in a dispute will have potentially relevant and discoverable information.

And we are of course seeing this explosive trend in the adoption of X1 Social Discovery ahead of new FRCP Rule 37(e). X1 Social Discovery is the undisputed leader in its field for the preservation and analysis of social media and other internet evidence. If you are not one of the several thousand eDiscovery, legal, and digital investigation professionals who have enthusiastically incorporated X1 Social Discovery into your standard preservation protocols, new FRCP 37(e) should be your final call to action.

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Filed under Case Law, eDiscovery, Social Media Investigations

No Legal Duty or Business Reason to Boil the Ocean for eDiscovery Preservation

As an addendum to my previous blog post on the unique eDiscovery and search burdens associated with the de-centralized enterprise, one tactic I have seen attempted by some CIOs to address this daunting challenge is to try to constantly migrate disparate data from around the globe into a central location. Just this past week, I spoke to a CIO that was about to embark on a Quixotic endeavor to centralize hundreds of terabytes of data so that it could be available for search and eDiscovery collection when needed. The CIO strongly believed he had no other choice as traditional information management and electronic discovery tools are not architected and not suited to address large and disparate volumes of data located in hundreds of offices and work sites across the globe that all store information locally. But boiling the ocean through data migration and centralization is extremely expensive, disruptive and frankly unworkable.

Industry analyst Barry Murphy succinctly makes this point:

Centralization runs counter to the realities of the working world where information must be distributed globally across a variety of devices and applications.  The amount of information we create is overwhelming and the velocity with which that information moves increases daily.  To think that an organization can find one system in which to manage all its information is preposterous. At the same time, the FRCPs essentially put the burden on organizations to be accountable for all information, able to conduct eDiscovery on a moment’s notice.  As we’ve seen, the challenge is daunting.

As I wrote earlier this month, properly targeted preservation initiatives are permitted by the courts and can be enabled by effective software that is able to quickly and effectively access and search these data sources throughout the enterprise.  The value of targeted preservation was recognized in the Committee Notes to the FRCP amendments, which urge the parties to reach agreement on the preservation of data and the keywords used to identify responsive materials. (Citing the Manual for Complex Litigation (MCL) (4th) §40.25 (2)).  And In re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, 2007 WL 1655757 (June 5, 2007 E.D.Mo.), the court noted that “[p]reservation efforts can become unduly burdensome and unreasonably costly unless those efforts are targeted to those documents reasonably likely to be relevant or lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.”

What is needed to address both eDiscovery and enterprise search challenges for the de-centralized enterprise is a field-deployable search and eDiscovery solution that operates in distributed and virtualized environments on-demand within these distributed global locations where the data resides. This ground breaking capability is what X1 Rapid Discovery provides. Its ability to uniquely deploy and operate in the IaaS cloud also means that the solution can install anywhere within the wide-area network, remotely and on-demand. This enables globally de-centralized enterprises to finally address their overseas data in an efficient, expedient, defensible and highly cost-effective manner.

But I am interested in hearing if anyone has had success with the centralization model. In my 12 years in this business and the 8 years before that as a corporate attorney, I have yet to see an effective or even workable situation where a global enterprise has successfully centralized all of their electronically stored information into a single system consisting of hundreds of terabytes. If you can prove me wrong and point to such a verifiable scenario, I’ll buy you a $100 Starbucks gift certificate or a round of drinks for you and your friends at ILTA next week.  If you want to take the challenge of just meet up at ILTA next week in Washington, feel free to email me.

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Filed under Cloud Data, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, IaaS, Preservation & Collection

The Global De-Centralized Enterprise: An Un-Met eDiscovery Challenge

Enterprises with data situated within a multitude of segmented networks across North America and the rest of the world face unique challenges for eDiscovery and compliance-related investigation requirements. In particular, the wide area networks of large project engineering, oil & gas, and systems integration firms typically contain terabytes of geographically disparate information assets in often harsh operating environments with very limited network bandwidth. Information management and eDiscovery tools that require data centralization or run on expensive and inflexible hardware appliances cannot, by their very nature, address critical project information in places like Saudi Arabia, China, or the Alaskan North Slope.

Despite vendor marketing hype, network bandwidth constraints coupled with the requirement to migrate data to a single repository render traditional information management and eDiscovery tools ineffective to address de-centralized global enterprise data. As such, the global decentralized enterprise represents a major gap for in-house eDiscovery processes, resulting in significant expense and inefficiencies. The case of U.S. ex rel. McBride v. Halliburton Co. [1]  illustrates this pain point well. In McBride, Magistrate Judge John Facciola’s instructive opinion outlines Halliburton’s eDiscovery struggles to collect and process data from remote locations:

Since the defendants employ persons overseas, this data collection may have to be shipped to the United States, or sent by network connections with finite capacity, which may require several days just to copy and transmit the data from a single custodian . . . (Halliburton) estimates that each custodian averages 15–20 gigabytes of data, and collection can take two to ten days per custodian. The data must then be processed to be rendered searchable by the review tool being used, a process that can overwhelm the computer’s capacity and require that the data be processed by batch, as opposed to all at once. [2]

Halliburton represented to the court that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on eDiscovery for only a few dozen remotely located custodians. The need to force-collect the remote custodians’ entire set of data and then sort it out through the expensive eDiscovery processing phase instead of culling, filtering and searching the data at the point of collection drove up the costs.

Despite the burdens associated with the electronic discovery of distributed data across the four corners of the earth, such data is considered accessible under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and thus must be preserved and collected if relevant to a legal matter. However, the good news is that the preservation and collection efforts can and should be targeted to only potentially relevant information limited to only custodians and sources with a demonstrated potential connection to the litigation matter in question.

This is important as the biggest expense associated with eDiscovery is the cost of overly inclusive preservation and collection. Properly targeted preservation initiatives are permitted by the courts and can be enabled by adroit software that is able to quickly and effectively access and search these data sources throughout the enterprise. The value of targeted preservation is recognized in the Committee Notes to the FRCP amendments, which urge the parties to reach agreement on the preservation of data and the key words, date ranges and other metadata to identify responsive materials. [3]  And In re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, the court noted that “[p]reservation efforts can become unduly burdensome and unreasonably costly unless those efforts are targeted to those documents reasonably likely to be relevant or lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.” [4]

However, such targeted collection and ECA in place is not feasible in the decentralized global enterprise with current eDiscovery and information management tools. What is needed to address these challenges for the de-centralized enterprise is a field-deployable search and eDiscovery solution that operates in distributed and virtualized environments on-demand within these distributed global locations where the data resides. In order to meet such a challenge, the eDiscovery and search solution must immediately and rapidly install, execute and efficiently operate in a localized virtualized environment, including public or private cloud deployments, where the site data is located, without rigid hardware requirements or on-site physical access.

This is impossible if the solution is fused to hardware appliances or otherwise requires a complex on-site installation process. After installation, the solution must be able to index the documents and other data locally and serve up those documents for remote but secure access, search and review through a web browser. As the “heavy lifting” (indexing, search, and document filtering) is all performed locally, this solution can effectively operate in some of the harshest local environments with limited network bandwidth. The data is not only collected and culled within the local area network, but is also served up for full early case assessment and first pass review on site, so that only a much smaller data set of potentially relevant data is ultimately transmitted to a central location.

This ground breaking capability is what X1 Rapid Discovery provides. Its ability to uniquely deploy and operate in the IaaS cloud also means that the solution can install anywhere within the wide-area network, remotely and on-demand. This enables globally decentralized enterprises to finally address their overseas data in an efficient, expedient defensible and highly cost effective manner.

If you have any thoughts or experiences with the unique eDiscovery challenges of the de-centralized global enterprise, feel free to email me. I welcome the collaboration.

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[1] 272 F.R.D. 235 (2011)

[2] Id at 240.

[3] Citing the Manual for Complex Litigation (MCL) (4th) §40.25 (2)):

[4] 2007 WL 1655757 (June 5, 2007 E.D.Mo.)

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery