This week’s issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly features a story on the rise of sanctions issued for e-discovery violations. In Christina Pazzanese’s article, Stephen Riden comments on a recent study published in the Duke Law Journal that documents the increase of sanctions awards involving e-discovery matters.
Of the 401 cases studied, only 30 counsel sanctions were handed out and only 25 of those were issued specific awards; the other five were deferred. Sanctions against counsel were considered in seven additional cases, but were ultimately not handed out.
“I think sanctioning lawyers is often only the last resort of a court,” said Stephen D. Riden of Beck, Reed, Riden in Boston. “Courts will typically give lawyers the benefit of the doubt, especially with a large volume of data that’s hard to wrap your arms around.”
Unless the conduct is egregious and opposing counsel offers a “slam-dunk argument,” judges will look for other ways to punish violations, he said.
Judge Collings agreed.
“I don’t think courts have been all that anxious to impose sanctions. I think they realize it’s a difficult area” and only act on “really egregious stuff,” he said.
Stephen frequently writes and speaks about issues involving electronic discovery in litigation.
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