When attorney Mark Goodheart asked opposing counsel for a copy of the surveillance footage captured by a video camera on the front of the train that collided with his client's truck, he had no idea he was sparking an electronic discovery fight that would last nearly two years.
In Pannunzio v. Norfolk Southern, Goodheart, an attorney with Cohen, Placitella & Roth in Philadelphia, represented plaintiff William M. Pannunzio, who was injured when his delivery truck was hit by a train owned and operated by defendant Norfolk Southern Corp., according to court papers.
Pannunzio's complaint alleged that Norfolk Southern's train had failed to sound a proper warning that it was approaching while his truck was stopped on the tracks. He also alleged that the train was travelling at an excessive rate of speed and that the tracks, which were also owned and operated by Norfolk Southern, failed to provide an adequate view of oncoming trains.
According to court documents, the defense, following a hearing on preliminary objections in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in April 2011, showed Goodheart the surveillance footage of the crash on a laptop in one of the courtrooms.
According to Goodheart, the footage showed the view from the front of the train, along with the speed at which the train had been travelling at the time and whether a horn was sounded.
"My thought was, 'How often do you actually have video of what the litigation's about?'" Goodheart told the Law Weekly.
But, according to court documents, when Goodheart expressed interest in obtaining a copy of the video, he was told by the defense that the video could only be played using special software called "RailView," which he would have to purchase from a company called SAIC.
According to court documents, the defense told Goodheart that if he did not wish to purchase the software, he would have to come to Norfolk Southern's office to view the footage again.
Goodheart contacted SAIC and was told by a representative that in order to use the software, he would have to purchase a $500 license that could only be used on one computer and would expire after one year, according to court documents.
Goodheart told the Law Weekly that to purchase licenses for multiple computers, as well as for the various plaintiffs experts in the case, it would have cost around $2,500.