Proportionality Prevents Mirror Imaging of Family Computers, by Joshua Gilliland, Bow Tie Law’s Blog
The Defendants in employment litigation sought the mirror imaging of the Plaintiff’s personal computers three years after she had been terminated. The crux of the eDiscovery centered on the former employee forwarding emails from her supervisors email to her personal account, which the Defendants claimed were lost by the Plaintiff. The Court denied the motion to compel. Downs v. Va. Health Sys., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74415, 6-11 (W.D. Va. June 2, 2014).
Judge James G. Welsh did a very nice job of summarizing ESI relevant to a case,proportionality, and the rules for conducting forensic analysis on an opposing party’s hard drive. The Court held the following:
(1) Nothing in the record suggests any willful failure, fault or bad faith by the plaintiff on her discovery obligations that would justify the requested computer forensics examination;
(2) The “mirror-imaging” of the plaintiff’s family computers three years after her termination raises significant issues of confidentiality and privacy;
(3) There was no duty on the part of the plaintiff to preserve her family computers as evidence;
(4) Principles of proportionality direct that the requested discovery is not sufficiently important to warrant the potential burden or expense in this case; and
(5) On the current record that the defendants have failed to justify a broad, and frankly drastic, forensic computer examination of the plaintiff’s two family computers.
Downs, at *9-10, referencing McCurdy Group v. Am. Biomedical Group, Inc., 9 Fed. Appx. 822, 831 (10th Cir. 2001); see also Basile Baumann Prost Cole & Assocs., Inc. v. BBP & Assocs. LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51264, *8 (D. Md. Apr. 9, 2013). . . .