Will hostages become popular in eDiscovery?

In a shocking turn of events, that would likely not exactly shock more seasoned veterans of the industry, an eDiscovery firm actually took a hostage.

Professionals in the eDiscovery market, as well as those operating in the corporate sector who have become more accustomed to the demands and intricacies of the associated processes, should know that this game is full of surprises. Like a book of shadows, the electronic litigation industry continues to become more, well…. unpredictable.

Someone call Mel Gibson;

William Ruskin of Epstein Becker Green recently told the story of an eDiscovery service provider holding a hard drive hostage, and essentially carrying out all of the actions you would expect during a bank robbery. The victimized company filed a complaint at the beginning of this year in New York, and alleged that the hostage taker demanded $80,000.

According to Ruskin, the eDiscovery firm stated that it would continue to hold the 20 terabyte hard drive, which just so happened to hold some of the most valuable information for the company in question, and destroy it should the client not pay the bill. When it went to court, it became very evident that the Judge was not surprised such an occurrence had transpired.

The author stated that the Judge told the plaintiff that this should act as a cautionary tale, especially considering the ever-increasing number of companies that trust their hard drives, data and other technology with uncharted and untested eDiscovery firms. Ruskin asserted that he would not want to be the lawyer who signed on this specific eDiscovery firm for his client.

Misery is ALIVE!  This whole house is going to be full of romance, I am going to put on my Liberace Records!

Just as the case has been throughout the two-hundred plus years of the American court system, lawyers and companies need to trust their support groups and put together the right safeguards in place regarding data. The above tale is likely an extreme, at least in the modern perspective, that few have had to go through. For this reason, like any software, service provider or vendor a company engages, attorneys, executive decision-makers and IT leaders need to ensure that the proper safe-guards are put into place and written contracts specifically addressing company data ownership.