Sunday, May 20, 2007

2007-05-20 Magistrate Judge's eDiscovery Rulings Subject To Abuse of Discretion Standard

Which means, of course that a District Judge will (at least in the Southern and Eastern District of New York) accord substantial deference to an eDiscovery ruling.

From the May 15, 2007 Eastern District decision in Curto v. Medical World Communications, Inc. Slip Copy, 2007 WL 1452106 (E.D.N.Y. 2007).

"This Court reviews a magistrate judge's decision regarding non-dispositive pretrial matters under a “clearly erroneous or contrary to law” standard. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). Discovery matters are generally considered non-dispositive of litigation. See Thomas E. Hoar, Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp., 900 F.2d 522, 525 (2d Cir.1990).

An order is “clearly erroneous” only if a reviewing court, considering the entirety of the evidence, “ ‘is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed’ “; an order is “contrary to law” when it “fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.' “ EEOC v. First Wireless Group, Inc., 225 F.R.D. 404, 405 (E.D.N.Y.2004) (quoting Weiss v. La Suisse, 161 F.Supp.2d 305, 320-21 (S.D.N.Y.2001)). This standard is “highly deferential,” “imposes a heavy burden on the objecting party,” and “only permits reversal where the magistrate judge abused his discretion.” Mitchell v. Century 21 Rustic Realty, 233 F.Supp.2d 418, 430 (E.D.N.Y.2002). Because it is clear that a magistrate judge is best qualified to “judge the entire atmosphere of the discovery process,” Bogan v. Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co., 144 F.R.D. 51, 53 (S.D.N.Y.1992), his discovery-related rulings are entitled to substantial deference. See Nikkal Indus., Ltd. v. Salton, Inc., 689 F.Supp. 187, 189 (S.D.N.Y.1988) ( “Consistently, it has been held that a magistrate's report resolving a discovery discourse between litigants should be afforded substantial deference and be overturned only if found to be an abuse of discretion.”)."

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