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E.D. Pa.: Expert to Study if French Blocking Statute Applies for ESI in NY Relativity Databases

Last Friday, in Behrens v. Arconic, Inc., No. 19-2664, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220209 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 20, 2019), an expert was appointed by the Court to study the impact of a French blocking statute that the Defendants rely on to limit discovery from one of its entities. The statute bars communications with a foreign court that would harm the economic or security interests of France. The case concerns cladding sold by a French subsidiary that was used in Grenfell Tower, a building in London where a catastrophic fire occurred.  

The parties’ dispute turns on whether ESI collected by DLA Piper, the Defendants’ counsel in the UK and France, is located in New York because it is in Relativity databases hosted there. The Court cited the Sedona Conference’s Working Group 6 standards on cross border discovery as an important authority guiding its decision. It noted the following principles established by the Sedona Conference: 1. U.S. courts should respect the data protection laws of foreign courts. 2. Where full compliance with both data protection laws and discovery obligations is impossible, a standard of good faith and reasonableness should be applied. 3. Preservation and discovery should be limited to data that is necessary for a party’s claims and defenses in order to avoid a conflict of laws.

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