E-Discoveries: Steps for Avoiding Sanctions

10/5/2010 Articles

Earlier this year, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin-arguably the nation's most influential e-discovery jurist-imposed sanctions on 13 plaintiffs in a securities case because of what she deemed sloppy and inattentive document preservation and collection.

Gaps in document production had become evident when the defendants began taking depositions, and the court ordered the plaintiffs to provide declarations about their efforts to preserve and collect relevant files. In a closely watched opinion (Pension Comm. of the Univ. of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, LLC, 685 F. Supp. 2d 456, (S.D.N.Y. 2010)), Judge Scheindlin described the plaintiffs' conduct as "either grossly negligent or negligent because they failed to execute a comprehensive search for documents and/or failed to sufficiently supervise or monitor their employees' document collection." (685 F. Supp. 2d at 477.) Some of the Pension Committee plaintiffs were sanctioned both financially and with an adverse inference jury instruction.