Text messages fragments. Emojis. New forms of communication make it harder for courts and parties to decipher the meaning of language without context. In this case, the court showcased that contextual evidence matters and will be an emerging type of evidence included in e-discovery.
In this case the defendant requested an order to compel production of text messages from the plaintiff based the uncertainty surrounding the context of information already produced.
The defendant wanted the plaintiff to expand their search parameters beyond “specific search terms” because the text messages that were produced did not give any context of what the produced text messages meant. To bolster their claim, the defendant cited that the plaintiff had already provided contextual text messages in discovery.
The plaintiff only argument against production of the contextual text messages was that the defendant’s request was filed after the closing of discovery, making it untimely.
ESI like text messages presents a unique challenge for understanding the context of the data. Requests for Production for this type of ESI should be comprehensive (and timely), not just the text but all elements of the data/messages. Other emerging ESI in this same category includes O365 Teams IMs, Google Chat, and Slack. All of these data types present challenges in the discovery process and legal teams need to be prepared.