Producing electronic documents in the discovery process in the course of litigation can be aggravating, as noted by Gina M. Vitiello, a partner at Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry, in a Construction Executive
“Lawyers call this ‘e-discovery,’ and parties to litigation might think the ‘e’ stands for expensive. Construction projects are document intensive,” Vitiello further pointed out, adding that a “single project easily can result in a million pages of data.”
Thus, she espoused a proactive attitude towards data management, to reduce the expense of litigation by making files easily accessible in anticipation of court action.
“Federal courts are sympathetic to this problem and recently amended procedural rules to deal with the growing problem of too much data and the corresponding rising costs of litigation,” she explained.
The new rules, according to Vitiello, stipulate that electronic documents must be produced only if they are “relevant to any party’s claim or defense” and “proportional to the needs of the case.”
Factors that could determine the “proportionality” of the documents needed are the significance of the issues at stake, the amount of money in question, the importance of the discovery to resolving issues, and whether the financial burden of the discovery outweighs the benefit.
“The new federal rules also come down hard on parties that don’t preserve or produce electronic discovery,” Vitiello added.
To deal with the new reality of e-discovery, she said construction firms will have to revise internal procedures, which could help significantly reduce the cost of the procedure.
“Understanding how and where electronic information is stored in a company is vital,” she emphasized.
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