Litigation Holds: A primer


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This presentation was given at the Western New York Paralegal Association on February 18, 2010. It's a more traditional powerpoint than I like to give (lots of bullet points and text) because it was intended for distribution to non-attendees as well as attendees.

The presentation was a primer for paralegals on the topics of litigation holds, preservation, records management and the challenges social media present for all of these areas.


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Litigation Holds: A primer

  1. 1. Litigation Holds<br />A primer<br />Debbie Westwood, Consultant<br />Your on call litigation support department<br />
  2. 2. What is a litigation hold?<br />And is it any different to a legal hold?<br />
  3. 3. A litigation hold is a process which an organization uses to preserve ALL forms of relevant information when litigation is reasonably anticipated<br />
  4. 4. That means ESI too . . .<br />
  5. 5. A litigation hold is a process . . .<br />It is not a piece of software<br />Some eDiscovery software can help automate litigation holds<br />But it is not a substitute for human intelligence<br />It is not a once-and-done task<br />See Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, 2004 WL 1620866 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2004) (aka “Zubulake V”)<br />Imposes a continuing obligation on lawyers to remind key players of their preservation obligation<br />
  6. 6. A litigation hold is a process . . .<br />Must be in writing<br />See The Pension Committee of Montreal, et al. v. Banc of America Securities, et al., 05 Civ. 9016 (SDNY Jan. 15, 2010) (Judge Scheindlin wrote this opinion as well as the Zubulake opinions)<br />See also Zubulake V<br />Ideally want to have responses from key players (read receipts are not enough)<br />Documentation is everything in eDiscovery<br />
  7. 7. All forms of relevant information . . .<br />
  8. 8. . . . when litigation is reasonably anticipated<br />Case law varies enormously<br />Phillip M. Adams & Associates, L.L.C. v. Dell, Inc., et al.,  2009 WL 910801 (D.Utah)<br />Patent infringement case<br />ASUS claimed “safe harbor rule” (FRCP 37(e))<br />ASUS left records management decisions entirely up to employees<br />Judge imposed sanctions<br />BUT Judge essentially argued that hold had to be implemented EIGHT YEARS before suit was filed<br />
  9. 9. . . . when litigation is reasonably anticipated<br />Phillip M. Adams & Associates, L.L.C. v. Dell, Inc., et al.,  2009 WL 910801 (D.Utah)<br />This case is an outlier<br />Generally there is a clear “trigger event” e.g.<br />Letter from lawyer advising of potential claim<br />Management discussion about a harassment event<br />Doe v. Norwalk Community College, 248 F.R.D. 372 (D.Conn. 2007)<br />Demand letters<br />Threats of litigation or other evidence of intent to sue<br />
  10. 10. The (almost) perfect litigation hold letter<br />Includes a clear language summary of the legal issues<br />Includes a list of example locations for data and possible types of relevant data<br />Includes a contact person for questions<br />Includes a list of key custodians<br />Includes a list of things to NOT do (defrag, hardware upgrades, opening / moving / deleting files)<br />Is sent to key custodians and IT staff<br />Is followed up with an in-person questionnaire<br />
  11. 11. Records management<br />Key to effective litigation holds<br />
  12. 12. Records management<br />A.K.A. Records retention policy, data destruction policy, information management<br />Refers to the storage, retention and destruction of data created in the course of business<br />Subject to various regulations<br />Tax, HIPAA, SOX, etc.<br />Subject to business relevance<br />Accounting records, orders, “business intelligence”<br />Should include ALL sources of information<br />
  13. 13. Records management<br />How not to use your records management policy:<br />Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States, 544 U.S. 696 (2005)<br />August 2001: <br />Arthur Anderson knew about financial irregularities related to Enron<br />October 2001: <br />Knew it would be subject to massive SEC investigation<br />October 2001: <br />Email from in-house counsel reminding staff to comply with existing document retention program<br />November 2001: <br />First subpoena from SEC<br />
  14. 14. Records management<br />ARMA International is a key source of information (<br />Effective records management = lower eDiscovery costs<br />Effective records management = lower risk of spoliation<br />Effective records management = lower data storage / maintenance costs<br />Effective records management = retrievable, authentic, accurate information<br />
  15. 15. Records management<br />The challenge is figuring out what to keep . . . and what to destroy<br />
  16. 16. How to preserve . . . <br />An incomplete guide<br />
  17. 17. How to preserve<br />
  18. 18. How to preserve / collect<br />Email:<br />Grab PSTs from Exchange server<br />Don’t forget local PST archives<br />Grab NSFs from Lotus Domino<br />Don’t forget local replicas, Notes ID files<br />Office documents:<br />Pinpoint Safecopy will make evidentiary sound copies of active data<br />Can forensically image entire computer also<br />
  19. 19. How to preserve / collect<br />Databases:<br />Live access<br />Duplicate database structure & import relevant data (quite complex)<br />Run reports (generally acceptable)<br />Websites / online content:<br />Wayback machine, HTTrack, Camstudio<br />Subpoena to Facebook/Yahoo/Google/Twitter for private content<br />Twitter: check out<br />
  20. 20. How to preserve / collect<br />
  21. 21. How to preserve / collect<br />Social media preservation in its infancy<br />Wider issue is preservation of Web 2.0 content<br />Not static<br />Here today, gone tomorrow<br />Pulls from multiple sources<br />Not all publicly accessible<br />Watch this space!<br />Social media is increasingly important for “run-of-the-mill” litigation<br />Divorces, personal injury, wrongful dismissals<br />
  22. 22. Questions?<br />Thank you!<br />Debbie Westwood, Consultant<br />Your on call litigation support department<br />