While requests for plaintiffs’ social media electronically stored information (ESI) are fast becoming the norm, it’s an open question whether they’ll have an impact beyond testing the e-discovery capabilities and competencies of counsel.  Jonathan Redgrave provides insights regard plaintiffs’ discovery obligations and the potential impact on cases.

As more lawsuits include plaintiffs’ social media electronically stored information (ESI) in discovery, such data is a potential goldmine to support the defense. But as lawyers dig for more of this data, they are also exposed to lingering collection and preservation challenges.

When such data is relevant, defense attorneys regularly request plaintiffs’ social media ESI to refute alleged harms, lawyers said. As the trend to bring this data into litigation grows, it may deter more meritless cases.

In Holley v. Gilead, for example, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered plaintiffs attorneys to provide social media ESI for 1,500 plaintiffs. Shook, Hardy & Bacon data and discovery strategies practice group co-chair Patrick Oot, along with his Proskauer Rose and Sidley Austin co-counsel, represents Gilead in the ongoing litigation. Oot, who wasn’t speaking on behalf of the pharmaceutical company, noted that the decision had far-reaching significance, saying it “discourages plaintiffs with claims of marginal merit from filing.”

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Other lawyers contacted by Legaltech News, however, weren’t sure Gilead’s latest order would have significant impact on e-discovery or plaintiffs social media ESI in discovery.

Jonathan Redgrave, managing partner of e-discovery boutique Redgrave, said plaintiff attorneys are increasingly aware of social media’s dominance in litigation and the order likely won’t scare off many from filing lawsuits.

I think most sophisticated plaintiffs lawyers are informing clients/potential clients about all of the realities of litigation, including preservation and discovery obligations for social media,” Redgrave said. “In that light, I think plaintiffs in various contexts will still move forward with prosecuting claims.”

Read the full Legaltech News article here