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(Maksym Yemelyanov – Fotolia)

In Matthew Enterprises v. Chrsyler, No. 13-CV-04236-BLF, 2016 WL 2957133 (N.D. Cal. May 23, 2016), Judge Paul Grewal begins his opinion with a concise and practical overview of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e):

The rules governing parties’ duties to preserve data do not demand perfection. Only when a party should have preserved electronically stored information “in the anticipation or conduct of litigation” and when that party “failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it” may a court order corrective measures. The standard is an attainable one.

This wonderfully succinct standard has been the root of a great deal of litigation since the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were adopted, with that litigation generally focused on large corporations and defendants spoliating evidence. However, Rule 37(e) applies to all parties. Today, individuals create a tremendous amount of data, whether it be through emails, mobile devices, or the Internet of Things (IoT). Plaintiffs that may not have been properly concerned with their preservation obligations in the past must place a new emphasis on the matter, or risk severe sanctions.

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