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E-⁠Discovery Case Law Library
A collection of simple, easy to understand analyses and resources on e-⁠discovery case law.
Case shelved under Reasonableness

Sometimes Just Sending a Legal Hold is Enough

New Mexico Oncology and Hematology Consultants, Ltd. v. Presbyterian Healthcare Services
D. New Mexico August 16, 2017
Why This Case is Important

This case re-iterates the fact that a collect-everything approach is most likely not needed. Just ensure your preservation practices are “reasonable” under the circumstances, which could mean sending a detailed legal hold notice to key custodians.

Overview:

In this lengthy antitrust and RICO dispute between healthcare organizations, the plaintiff moved for spoliation sanctions based on the defendants’ legal hold procedures.

The plaintiff had four qualms regarding the defendant’s preservation process:

  • Too much employee discretion given to determine relevancy;
  • Employees were forced to delete or archive potentially relevant emails based on their data retention policies;
  • Not enough employees were initially placed on hold (35 initially, which was expanded to 209 total);
  • A server-side hold was put into place for all key custodians.
Ruling:
  • Rejected Motion Due to Lack of Prejudice. The court rejected most of the plaintiff’s arguments due to the lack of evidence to prove prejudice or bad faith.
  • Reasonableness, Not Perfection Required. Upon review, the court found that the plaintiff had a reasonable preservation process, including a detailed legal hold notice, which advised “when in doubt, preserve” and instructed the first custodians on hold to refer other key custodians.
  • Implement a Server-Side Hold. Again, without evidence that the plaintiff was prejudiced by the defendant for not implementing a server-side hold, the court could not find sanctions. The court did however state “the best approach is to implement a server-side hold on all digital data utilized by key employees and to later use search algorithms to parse relevance.”
Download Case Law PDF

Download the PDF version of New Mexico Oncology and Hematology Consultants, Ltd. v. Presbyterian Helathcare Services case analysis here.

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Reasonableness room