In the 2014 Ethicon legal hold case, the court awarded monetary sanctions against the defendant, as they had failed to implement a comprehensive and timely litigation hold notice. The court concluded that defendant’s failure to properly preserve data after it should have reasonably anticipated litigation was negligent, but there was no evidence that the defendant acted willfully or intentionally to delete evidence. Instead, the court found that the system used by Ethicon to implement litigation holds was “riddled with holes.” Part of the problem occurred when an employee left the company and a technician in the IT department unknowingly deleted or repurposed the hard drives.
A key point here is that even though a company issues a legal hold in a timely manner, other things can go drastically haywire if something is missed along the way. For example, if the issued hold was not broad enough in scope, some employees failed to comply with the order, or the company’s legal hold system was simply “broken,” severe court sanctions may result.
Some of the lessons learned from this case:
- Litigation holds should be specific to the case at issue, but also broad enough in scope to preserve potentially relevant information
- Companies must take all necessary steps to adequately implement any litigation hold in place and ensure compliance in a timely manner
- Companies must institute policies and procedures for lifting the hold when the company no longer has a duty to preserve evidence
- A robust legal hold system must be in place so the company is prepared for the threat of legal holds
In our new white paper, “Is it Worth the Risk? How to Implement a World Class Defensible Legal Hold Process” we discuss the significance of legal holds in today’s corporate environment, why you need gold-standard legal hold automation software and the strategies to fuel your company’s path toward a robust legal hold process.
Download this new white paper to discover how a cutting edge legal hold platform allows team members to gain real-time access to the status of collection requests, know when actions were issued, which tasks are in progress and which legal actions require immediate attention.
Our new white paper offers the following insights:
- Why you need a world class legal hold process
- A little history of recent landmark legal hold cases and why they should concern you
- Current best practices of legal holds
- Essential features to know before shopping for legal hold software
- The problems associated with using antiquated or inappropriate legal hold tools
A powerful legal hold solution offers a quick and highly cost-effective way to supercharge your automated business processes, as well as your bottom line. Reduce the ever-present risk of costly court cases. The stakes are high, and the time to act is now.