This case showcases the importance of having a defined, repeatable preservation process and specifically highlights how legal teams must focus on creating a defensible legal hold notice.
In this breach of contract case, the plaintiffs requested the court require the defendants to produce their legal hold notices and related data, based upon the plaintiffs’ allegations of spoliation.
In discovery, there was a discrepancy between the physical documents and the electronic data produced. Multiple instances occurred where printed documents were produced, but the electronic versions and related data were not produced by the defendants.
The defendants contended that producing printed documents should suffice and that electronic copies were not needed.
Download the PDF version of this case law alert here.
The most important takeaway from this case is that a paper printout of an email or other ESI is not an acceptable substitute for the original and all its metadata. Second, the defendants failed to provide an adequate explanation here as to why the emails were deleted after they were printed. Third, while I am not sure how a legal hold notice could definitively answer the question of the defendants' state of mind, claims as to the privileged nature of the legal hold memo are weak anyway (as is usually the case).