WASHINGTON DC: Honeywell International continues in its legal battle against the US Justice Department for allegedly selling defective body armor to law enforcement and military agencies. Honeywell is now pushing for sanctions against the DOJ on a case which began in 2008, accusing the Deptarment of failed litigation holds for their continued lawsuit.
Honeywell has been making a slew of e-discovery abuse allegations about the Justice Department which the DOJ blames on their e-discovery vendor and on a lack of communication among government agencies working on the case. Honeywell explains that the Department used litigation holds on their company from separate, unrelated cases instead of information pertinent to the current case. As a result, the company says that exculpatory documents were produced belatedly, or not at all, which has caused the case file to be irreparably distorted.
And so the mess begins to reveal itself. With a production of over 2.9 million pages received from 77 custodians in over 40 agencies, government witnesses maintain that they were completely unaware of Honeywell’s pertinence in the data during preservation and collection. Notices sent to witnesses supposedly never included the company’s name during this process.
Former government assistant attorney, Andrew Grosso, recently relayed to reporters that the government’s litigation processes are much more complex than those of companies in the private sector. He adds that there have been several nightmarish cases in which government attorneys were unable to locate essential information. (ACEDS) “I find it amusing when somebody says the government has unlimited resources.” Grosso adds that he believes the government is currently becoming out-resourced with e-discovery technology in this case. (ACEDS)
Unfeeling to the government’s claims of hardships during the discovery process, Honeywell continues its quest to push for sanctions saying that the DOJ’s suppressed records have distorted the truth. The company adds that they will accept no less than an immediate production of all relevant information and a monetary compensation fee. Agreeing with the government’s position would only allow the government to “abuse the discovery rules and impose costs on others without consequence,” says the company.
Robert Hilson of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists writes that this case will put a “bright spotlight” on the government’s ability to handle electronically stored information (ESI) that may come into play during future civil and criminal cases.
The pressure is on for government agencies to work together between departments and with their e-discovery vendor. Litigation is expected to increase over the next year, and some say that hiring more attorneys to work for the DOJ might avoid all of the current problems they are encountering. Seeing the country’s obvious need for a better, more efficient system in addition to a desperate need to create new jobs, could the e-discovery and legal industries end up becoming the answer to our prayers?