importance of E-Discovery


An interesting story this morning on a importance of E-Discovery by clearwellsystems, Here is the blurb:

In my experience, e-discovery does not make the radar screen of most corporate General Counsels (GCs). Typically, it is one many issues left to others (e.g., Chief of Litigation, Director of Litigation Support) within the GC’s group. That may change after the recent verdict in the case of Broadcom vs. Qualcomm.

See below for the story, as told by Corporate Counsel in their October issue, with additional commentary from me [added in brackets]:

Collateral Damage

After a string of punishing legal defeats, Qualcomm Incorporated has switched general counsel. On August 13 the company announced that Carol Lam would replace Louis Lupin as its legal chief [Sounds like he got fired]. The move came a week after a federal judge issued a scorching order accusing Qualcomm and its outside lawyers of “gross litigation misconduct.” [Sounds like a pretty good reason why he got fired]

Emily Kilpatrick, Qualcomm’s director of corporate communications, says Lupin is leaving for personal reasons [Isn’t that what they always say?]. “He has been an outstanding leader and contributor to Qualcomm’s success over the past 12 years,” according to Kilpatrick. “However, he has decided to step down as general counsel and take a personal leave.” [a decision most likely made at the request of his boss]

Lam, who was hired in February to supervise Qualcomm’s worldwide litigation, will take over as interim GC, according to a company statement. Lam is one of the U.S. Attorneys fired by the U.S. Department of Justice this past winter. [oh, the irony…]

Based in San Diego, Qualcomm licenses semiconductor technology and system software to cell phone makers. For several years it’s been engaged in a pitched battle with rival Broadcom Corporation over who has infringed whose patents.

Qualcomm’s biggest problems have come in a case in San Diego federal district court. In January a jury ruled that the company had violated Broadcom’s patents. But even before the verdict, Qualcomm suffered a major setback as the trial drew to a close. One of the company’s witnesses revealed the existence of email that Broadcom said should have been produced during discovery. [Yet again, email is the smoking gun]

In April general counsel Lupin and one of Qualcomm’s outside attorneys sent letters of apology to the court, saying they failed to do a detailed enough keyword search of the company’s email. [No big deal, right? After all, we are saying sorry]

But that wasn’t enough for Judge Rudi Brewster, who has been hearing the San Diego case. On August 6 he issued a blistering 54-page ruling. He accused Qualcomm not only of failing to turn over more than 200,000 pages of relevant email and electronic documents during discovery, [i.e., this is a case of a deeply flawed e-discovery process, not of a simple missing email] but of engaging in a years-long campaign to deliberately mislead a technological standards body. Brewster ordered Qualcomm to pay Broadcomm’s litigation costs, and voided two of its patents. (David Rosmann, vice president of intellectual property litigation at Broadcom, estimates that its fees could be around $10 million). [The legal costs alone are several times what it would have cost Qualcomm to purchase an e-discovery solution and avoid this whole situation in the first place]

In a statement, Qualcomm said it “respectfully disagrees” with Brewster’s ruling and intends to appeal. “Qualcomm acknowledges the seriousness of the court’s findings and reiterates its previous apology to the court for the errors made during discovery and for the inaccurate testimony of certain of its witnesses,” the statement read. [We said sorry, isn’t that enough for you guys?]

The company’s problems aren’t over, however. Federal magistrate judge Barbara Major is now considering whether to levy sanctions against Qualcomm’s attorneys. [Don’t think you can hide behind your deep-pocketed employer. If you screw up e-discovery, it will be your neck on the line] Major has given “any and all…attorneys who signed discovery responses, signed pleadings and pretrial motions, and/or appeared at trial on behalf of Qualcomm” until September 21 to file a statement explaining why they shouldn’t be penalized. [For the lawyers in question, it’s guilty unless their arguments convince the judge they are innocent]

Original story: http://clearwellsystems.blogspot.com/2007/09/if-you-think-e-discovery-does-not.html

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