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What Is E-Discovery Litigation?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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E-discovery litigation covers lawsuits that fall under amended rules of civil procedure when requests for electronically stored evidence are received. The legal rules define types of evidence produced and mandate early attention to requests for discovery materials. E-discovery litigation procedures make allowances to protect confidential information and evidence lost in the normal operation of business.

The rules of civil procedure broadly define information that can be requested through a discovery motion. The authors purposely drafted it to cover current methods of electronic storage and allow for future advances in technology. E-discovery litigation requests might include e-mail correspondence, instant messages, spreadsheets, appointment calendars, and a host of other digital documents.

A party subject to an e-discovery request must respond promptly under the law. This provision allows time to research various databases and minimizes the expense of producing material requested during e-discovery litigation. The legislation also outlines how information must be preserved and transmitted after a request is received.

Exceptions to the rules deal with information not readily accessible because it would pose a burden or create excessive expense. If the attorney making the request for inaccessible information files a motion to compel production, the party seeking the exception must produce facts to back his or her claim. A judge typically decides whether a burden or unwarranted expense exists.

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When e-discovery litigation involves information considered privileged, the law guarantees protection of the documents. Simple production of discovery evidence does not waive the right to confidentiality. These rules also apply to information deemed a company’s work product. Reports and other data cannot be used against the provider and may not be disclosed to competitors.

No sanctions exist when someone cannot produce evidence lost during normal business operations. An exception to e-discovery rules might be claimed when electronic programming overwrites or deletes information to serve the needs of the business or technical department. Anyone who intentionally deletes data to avoid e-litigation discovery requests could face legal sanctions.

Changes to the law prompted the formation of firms that offer e-discovery litigation software and services to help manage the volume of information stored electronically. These companies typically analyze requests and review documents to determine if they meet the criteria in the regulations. The use of an outside agency might streamline the process of e-discovery, especially if numerous requests come in linked to a class action or complex lawsuit.

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