E-discovery Rules Have Arrived in Ohio
By Ryan T. Neumeyer
As predicted in my prior article entitled “An Employer’s New Obligation for Document Retention and Preservation,” Ohio has essentially adopted the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding e-discovery. The changes to the Ohio Rules took effect on July 1, 2008.
The new Ohio Rules will explicitly allow for the discovery of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and require that an employer that anticipates litigation to preserve and retrieve computer files relevant to the anticipated litigation. As with the Federal Rules, the new Ohio Rules require, among other things, that your attorney become familiar with your company’s computer systems, records retention policy and the location of ESI prior to the initial discovery conference.
This means that, in the unfortunate event of litigation, someone with knowledge of your company’s computer systems will have to spend time explaining those systems to your attorney at the outset of litigation. This will allow your attorney to determine where relevant ESI is stored, in addition to enabling him to help your company preserve these documents while minimizing the interruption to your regular business operations. Most importantly, your attorney will be able to explain your systems to the court, if need be.
Also, as with the Federal Rules, the Ohio Rules provide a “safe harbor” for those companies that have a document retention policy and inadvertently destroy relevant ESI prior to anticipation of litigation.
Accordingly, it is now absolutely vital that Ohio companies invest the time and money to develop such a plan. Further, a good document retention policy will not only provide some safety in the event of litigation, but will also save your company money in the long run by increasing efficiency through organization and the ability to retrieve information.
If your company has not already done so, now is a great time to establish a record retention and litigation preservation plan. If you need help in developing these plans, please do not hesitate to contact Ryan Neumeyer or Lynn Schonberg. Ryan and Lynn can also answer all of your questions regarding the new rules pertaining to e-discovery in Ohio.