Russell Beck in Lawyers Weekly on Discovery Sanctions

A recent issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly features discussion with Russell Beck in an article titled “Flouting of e-discovery orders leads to rare sanction of default.”

The article covers a federal court decision in the U.S. District of Massachusetts concerning a misappropriation-of-trade-secrets lawsuit that resulted in the entry of sanctions against the defendants. The court order notes that the defendants were given multiple prior orders to produce certain documents, and that the defendants provided affidavits that they had complied with these orders. The article was written by Lawyers Weekly reporter Kris Olson.

In Red Wolf Energy Trading, LLC v. BIA Capital Mgmt., LLC, Judge Mark L. Wolf explained that the case “generated more meritorious motions to compel and for sanctions against defendants for failure to produce documents than any other case in which this court has presided in more than 37 years.”

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

One issue raised by the court was that myriad relevant messages exchanged by the defendants over a Slack account were not produced in a timely fashion, and that “defendants could have used ‘a standard eDiscovery processing tool’ to search and produce Slack messages for a cost of about $10,000” three years before the court’s decision. The court further explained that “[t]he law is not a game, and, as the court told defendants, civil discovery is not a game of hide and seek.”

The article quotes Russell Beck as follows:

Boston business litigator Russell Beck said another lesson from Red Wolf is in the value of paying the $10,000 for a proper forensic vendor.

“While it may feel like a lot of money, it is well worth the expense,” Beck said.

That will be especially true in cases involving allegations of misappropriated trade secrets, which come with a lot of e-discovery that can be expensive to contend with.

“But the consequences of doing it improperly can be worse,” Beck said.

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For up-to-the-minute analysis of legal issues concerning trade secrets and noncompete agreements in Massachusetts and across the United States, read Russell Beck’s blog, Fair Competition Law.

eck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience. In 2016, the White House issued a report entitled, “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” relying in part on Beck Reed Riden LLP’s research and analysis, including its 50 State Noncompete Survey.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized, and includes:

  • Over thirty working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Assisting the Obama White House as part of a small working group to develop President Obama’s Noncompete Call to Action
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (6th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2021), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete matters
  • Authoring the book Trade Secrets Law for the Massachusetts Practitioner (1st ed. MCLE 2019), covering trade secrets nationally, with a focus on Massachusetts law
  • Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administering the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administering the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,660 and 870 members, respectively, around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide, which stated that Russell Beck is “an expert in the field of trade secret and restrictive covenant law,” and is also noted for his “ability to adjust and come up with successful solutions.” Chambers noted that Russell “basically wrote the new Massachusetts statute on noncompetes” and that “he’s an expert in employee mobility and nonrestrictive covenants.”

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Stephen Riden in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on preserving evidence

The February 27, 2012, issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly features Stephen Riden in an article about a company that was sanctioned after destroying evidence. The article is by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Managing Editor, David E. Frank.

The article focuses on a lawsuit involving dispute over the ownership and management fees of a hedge fund. While the lawsuit was pending, a Superior Court judge in the Business Litigation Session found that the CEO of the defendant company destroyed thousands of pages of evidence. The defendant company, for its part, argued that the destruction was inadvertent and, in any event, the discarded materials were either duplicative or irrelevant.

Nevertheless, the Court found that spoliation had occurred, and ordered the defendant to pay a portion of the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and ruled that an adverse jury instruction would be given at the time of trial.

In the article, Stephen Riden comments that, while there are some appellate decisions in Massachusetts that define the parameters of what is a permissible sanction in this situation, the most comprehensive analysis of spoliation issues is most often found in lower court decisions.

‘By the time it gets to the appellate level, they’re looking at it from an abuse-of-discretion standard, so unless the judge has gone far afield of what an appeals court thinks is reasonable, they’re not going to issue an opinion to the contrary’ he said. ‘These are in-the-trenches discovery battles, and where you’re going to see the most well-developed analysis of the issues is in the trial court.’

Steve Riden frequently writes and speaks about commercial litigation issues, including social media and electronic discovery.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.