The Kansas Court of Appeals on Tracking Document Review Hours in Relativity
Today, Judge James Vano issued a decision in Ross-Williams v. Bennett, 2018 Kan. App. LEXIS 22 (Kan. Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2018) affirming a lower court decision approving a settlement and reducing the amount of attorney fees and expenses requested as part of the proposed settlement. A law firm used records from Relativity tracking user activity to support the fact that an attorney had worked more than 6800 hours performing document review. The Kansas district court found that the attorney's billing records were dubious, and noted that that, "it takes merely a keystroke of activity once every hour to keep [the computer program] from timing out or logging off a session." Id. at 33.
Plaintiff's counsel submitted a declaration in order to support the time worked by the attorney in Relativity, noting that a session will log out automatically after 62 minutes and used as an exhibit, a log using fields from a Relativity workspace named, 'Total Usage Time', 'Views', 'Distinct Views', 'Edits', 'Distinct Edits', and '# Documents'. This declaration was submitted after the district court's order and so was not considered by the Court of Appeals. The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that, "simply hitting a key on one's computer every hour does not equate to actually reviewing documents. Accordingly, we do not find that the district court abused its discretion in denying the motion." Id. at 75.
The Relativity Instance Setting Guide, for version 9.5, seems to contradict the assertion that a user will be logged out of a workspace after 62 minutes. See the reference to CookieDuration, which indicates that an admin can set "the length of time that the users are logged in to Relativity before the system automatically logs them off and requires them to re-authenticate" from between 4 and 24 hours. If the court reviews the exhibit submitted with the declaration, they should see metrics relative to how much document review was actually performed. As the Relativity site makes clear, 'Distinct Edits' are, "[t]he total number of documents edited, excluding repeated edits of the same document. The 'distinct' classification is meant to account for duplicate actions performed against unique documents." 'Distinct Views' would show how many documents a user actually looked at.
It appears as though the district court issued its decision, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, on the basis of a report such as this:
. . . when it could have reviewed a report like this: