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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

What Constitutes Private Information in Text Messages

Laub v. Horbaczewski
C.D. Cal July 30, 2019
Why This Case Is Important

This case acts as notice to custodians that even private information stored on your phone conducted in the course of business may be deemed responsive if produced.

Overview:

In this contract case, the defendant inadvertently produced spreadsheets of text messages and iNotes from the defendant’s mobile phone without conducting a privilege review. Because of this, the defendant requested the production of spreadsheets to be returned and a new version with redactions would be submitted to the plaintiff.

The defendant reasoned that since the text message production contained irrelevant data, a clawback of irrelevant data was valid. The texts contained the following information between the defendant and…
- Company employees
- a college friend of the defendant
- a human resource professional the defendant was having a romantic relationship with

Ruling:
  • The Court Declined the Defendant’s Request. The judge ruled that there was no legal justification to allow a clawback based on relevance. As a result, any substitute production must contact irrelevant texts.
  • Irrelevant Romantic Texts. The court ruled that there was a constitutional right to privacy when it comes to personal information. In these cases the court would conduct a balancing test between the need and the private information disclosed. Regarding the romantic texts the court stated, the “seriousness of the invasion of privacy for the individuals involved outweighs any countervailing interest there might be in discovery.”
  • Irrelevant Business Texts. The court however concluded that based on that same test, the texts between the defendant and his college friend were not precluded because the privacy concerns were not as high
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Download the PDF version of Laub v. Horbaczewski Foundation for Medical Care case law alert here.

Legal Analysis
On Laub v. Horbaczewski
Mike Hamilton, J.D.  Director of Marketing, Exterro
BY
Mike Hamilton, J.D. Director of Marketing, Exterro

Throughout American culture there is a heightened awareness around how digital personal data is being used. This case points out that this trend applies to e-discovery, meaning the court will conduct a balancing test to evaluate the seriousness of the invasion of privacy versus the discovery interest/value when assessing production requests.

Mike Hamilton's Bio
relevant resource
Under FRCP 37(e), in order to be granted spoliation sanctions, the moving party must show that they were prejudiced by the spoliation. In this case, the court ruled that the prejudice suffered must be "severe," leaving us to wonder: what level of prejudice is needed to warrant spoliation sanctions?
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