The Chief Administrative Judge has signed an order adding a new rule regarding the discovery of electronically-stored information from non-parties.
The new Commercial Division Rule 11-c and Appendix A, which goes into effect on September 2, 2014, provides:
Rule 11-c. Discovery of Electronically Stored Information from Nonparties.
Parties and nonparties should adhere to the Commercial Division’s Guidelines for Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (“ESI”) from nonparties, which can be found in Appendix A to these Rules of the Commercial Division.
APPENDIX A. GUIDELINES FOR DISCOVERY OF ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION (“ESI”) FROM NONPARTIES.
The purpose of these Guidelines for Discovery of ESI from Nonparties (the “Guidelines”) is to:
Provide for the efficient discovery of ESI from nonparties in Commercial Division cases;
Encourage the early assessment and discussion of the potential costs and burdens to be imposed on nonparties in preserving, retrieving, reviewing and producing ESI given the nature of the litigation and the amount in controversy;
Identify the costs of nonparty ESI discovery that will require defrayal by the party requesting the discovery; and
Encourage the informal resolution of disputes between parties and nonparties regarding the production of ESI, without Court supervision or intervention whenever possible.
These Guidelines are not intended to modify governing case law or to replace any parts of the Rules of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court (the “Commercial Division Rules”), the Uniform Civil Rules for the Supreme Court (the “Uniform Civil Rules”), the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (the “CPLR”), or any other applicable rules or regulations pertaining to the New York State Unified Court System. These Guidelines should be construed in a manner that is consistent with governing case law and applicable sections and rules of the Commercial Division Rules, the Uniform Civil Rules, the CPLR, and any other applicable rules and regulations. Parties seeking ESI discovery from nonparties in Commercial Division cases are recommended to cite to or reference Rule 11-c of the Commercial Division Rules and these Guidelines in their requests for ESI discovery.
Definition of ESI
As used herein, “ESI” includes any electronically stored information stored in any medium from which such information can be obtained, either directly or after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form.
I. Subject to all applicable court rules regarding discovery, a party seeking ESI discovery from a nonparty and the nonparty receiving the request for ESI discovery are encouraged to engage in discussions regarding the ESI to be sought as early as permissible in an action.
II. Notwithstanding whether or when the legal duty to preserve ESI arises, which is governed by case law, a party seeking ESI discovery from a nonparty is encouraged to discuss with the nonparty any request that the nonparty implement a litigation hold.
III. A party seeking ESI discovery from a nonparty should reasonably limit its discovery requests, taking into consideration the following proportionality factors:
A. The importance of the issues at stake in the litigation;
B. The amount in controversy;
C. The expected importance of the requested ESI;
D. The availability of the ESI from another source, including a party;
E. The “accessibility” of the ESI, as defined in applicable case law; and
F. The expected burden and cost to the nonparty.
IV. The requesting party and the nonparty should seek to resolve disputes through informal mechanisms and should initiate motion practice only as a last resort. The requesting party and the nonparty should meet and confer concerning the scope of the ESI discovery, the timing and form of production, ways to reduce the cost and burden of the ESI discovery (including but not limited to: an agreement providing for the clawing-back of privileged ESI; and the use of advanced analytic software applications and other technologies that can screen for relevant and privileged ESI), and the requesting party’s defrayal of the nonparty’s reasonable production expenses. In connection with the meet and confer process, the requesting party and the nonparty should consider the proportionality factors set forth in paragraph III. In the event no agreement is reached through the meet and confer process, the requesting party and the nonparty are encouraged to seek resolution by availing themselves of the Court System’s resources, such as by requesting a telephonic conference with a law clerk or special referee or the appointment of an unpaid mediator in accordance with Rule 3 of the Commercial Division Rules.
V. The requesting party shall defray the nonparty’s reasonable production expenses in accordance with Rules 3111 and 3122(d) of the CPLR. Such reasonable production expenses may include the following:
A. Fees charged by outside counsel and e-discovery consultants;
B. The costs incurred in connection with the identification, preservation, collection, processing, hosting, use of advanced analytical software applications and other technologies, review for relevance and privilege, preparation of a privilege log (to the extent one is requested), and production;
C. The cost of disruption to the nonparty’s normal business operations to the extent such cost is quantifiable and warranted by the facts and circumstances; and
D. Other costs as may be identified by the nonparty.
You can learn more about the background of this rule change by reading the request for comment that the Office of Court Administration posted earlier this year on the proposed rule.