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Business Litigation: September 2012 Archives

Important Changes Brought About By The CORI Reform Law

The final changes brought about by the CORI Reform Law went into effect on May 4, 2012 and, with those changes, how employers access and use a job applicant's criminal history has changed.  Employers must comply with the new procedures or may face fines up to $50,000.

Obtaining Discovery From Massachusetts Witnesses For Use In An Out Of State Action

It is not uncommon for litigants in proceedings pending outside of Massachusetts to need documents or testimony from witnesses who reside in Massachusetts.  Even when the witness is willing to provide the requested information voluntarily, it is wise to serve a subpoena to minimize the delay if the witness changes his mind and decides not to cooperate.  Indeed, even a "friendly" subpoena carries the threat of contempt sanctions for noncompliance and therefore serves as a powerful deterrent if the witness gets cold feet.  A subpoena also has the advantage of preventing the witness from appearing predisposed to provide evidence favorable to the requesting party as may be the case if the evidence is voluntarily provided.

Privacy Settings Do Not Prevent Discovery of Social Media

While millions of Americans have become adept at managing their social network privacy settings to keep their postings hidden from the general public, individuals and companies involved in litigation should not expect those settings to shield information from discovery.  The recent trend among numerous federal and state courts has been to find that "[Social Networking Site] content is not shielded from discovery simply because it is 'locked' or 'private.'"  E.E.O.C. v. Simply Storage Management, LLC, 270 F.R.D. 430 (S.D. Ind. 2010).  While "privacy concerns may be germane to the question of whether requested discovery is burdensome or oppressive and...has been sought for a proper purpose...a person's expectation and intent that her communications be maintained as private is not a legitimate basis for shielding those communications from discovery."  Simply Storage at 434.  Several other recent cases have followed this same reasoning, including Romano v. Steelcase, Inc., 30 Misc.3d 426 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (ordering access to plaintiff's Facebook and MySpace records); Offenback v. L.M. Bowman, Inc., 2011 WL 2491371 (M.D. Penn. June 22, 2011) (ordering production of relevant information housed on Facebook after in camera review).

The When of Mediating a Complex Business Dispute

Increasingly the question regarding mediation of a complex business litigation case is not whether but when. Among experienced litigation counsel, there is widespread agreement that mediation should be attempted in many if not most cases. The resources of time and money committed to mediation are usually modest compared to the requisites of full-blown litigation. It is a voluntary and confidential process. Though experiences may vary, I have found that mediation succeeds more times than not in obtaining mutually acceptable settlements. Even if a case does not immediately settle in mediation, both parties are apt to receive significant value in obtaining the assessment of a neutral third party and also in learning more about how the other party (or parties) calculates the risks and rewards of the case.

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