July 13, 2011 Articles

Avoiding an Electronic Discovery Disaster with Litigation Holds

We must advise clients of the triggers for the common-law duty to preserve evidence and assist them in developing practices to ensure that the duty is met when it arises.

By Elizabeth S. Fenton, Diana Rabeh, and Jonathan M. Shapiro

The U.S. government estimates 206,000,000 barrels of oil flowed from the explosion of BP’s rig into the Gulf of Mexico. Dina Cappiello, “New BP Challenge to Spill Size Could Affect Fine,” Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2010. BP has confirmed that the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is $1.6 billion as of December 1, 2010. There are 1 trillion bytes of data in the form of documents, emails, voice mails, text messages, and instant messages expected to be retrieved from BP’s electronic discovery. William W. Belt Jr., Electronic Discovery Challenges in BP Oil Spill Cases [PDF], The e-Discovery 4-1-1, Aug. 2010. The sheer volume of electronic data will cause the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to become one of the largest electronic discovery events in history.

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