Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, issued a much-anticipated computer-assisted review opinion on Friday, acknowledging that it "appears to be the first in which a Court has approved of the use of computer-assisted review" in electronic data discovery.
In Monique Da Silva Moore, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group, Defendents, 11 Civ. 1279 (ALC)(AJP), five women plaintiffs are suing "one of the world's 'big four advertising conglomerates,' and its United States public relations subsidiary," for gender discrimination.
Peck wrote that, "the decision to allow computer-assisted review in this case was relatively easy -- the parties agreed to its use (although disagreed about how best to implement such review). The Court recognizes that computer-assisted review is not a magic, Staples-Easy-Button, solution appropriate for all cases. The technology exists and should be used where appropriate, but it is not a case of machine replacing humans: it is the process used and the interaction of man and machine that the courts need to examine."
He acknowledges that computer-assisted review need not be used in all cases, and that the protocols he approved in the case may not be appropriate in all future cases that use computer-assisted review. Peck also made a point to state that his opinion does not endorse any vendor and that no vendors were named in the body opinion. (Although the vendor in the matter is revealed in attachments.)
"What the Bar should take away from this Opinion is that computer-assisted review is an available tool and should be seriously considered for use in large-data-volume cases where it may save the producing party (or both parties) significant amounts of legal fees in document review. Counsel no longer have to worry about being the "first" or "guinea pig" for judicial acceptance of computer-assisted review. As with keywords or any other technological solution to ediscovery, counsel must design an appropriate process, including use of available technology, with appropriate quality control testing, to review," Peck added.
In a client alert, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz counsel and noted e-discovery expert Maura Grossman, said Peck's ruling "should pave the way for wide acceptance of the use of technology-assisted document review in major civil litigation, and rein in the costs of document production in federal court suits."