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E-discovery in construction defect cases: What it means and what it covers

In today's digital age, fewer and fewer records are stored in paper form. File cabinets and folders have been replaced by hard drives and cloud storage. Even desktop computers have been eclipsed by mobile technology - tablets, laptops and smartphones.

Digital data in the construction industry

The construction industry involves a high volume of records, and in most cases, the bulk of those records are in digital format. Architects, engineers, designers and builders rely on computer-aided design (CAD) software for construction plans. Project managers use Primavera software (or similar tools) for scheduling, workflow, reporting and more. Contractors, subcontractors, builders and inspectors use email to communicate and online systems to document their work.

When legal disputes arise surrounding construction defects, those records play a critical role. They can make or break a defect claim.

Securing critical information

A big part of the litigation process involves discovery of electronically stored information (ESI). This information may include:

  • Project data
  • Emails
  • Voicemails
  • Text messages
  • Social media postings
  • Metadata (for example, time stamps, author/recipient info and modification history)

Given the vast amount of information stored electronically, e-discovery can be an intensive, time-consuming process, especially in complex construction cases involving multiple parties. Forensic technology experts may be necessary to trace data or recover lost (or deleted) information. Attention to detail and meticulous organization are the bedrock for ensuring that nothing gets overlooked.

Additionally, strict rules govern the e-discovery process in Florida state and federal courts. Compliance with those rules is essential for avoiding sanctions.

As a result, navigating the e-discovery process requires an experienced construction law attorney - one who knows the law and procedure, and who is equipped with the tools and resources to properly handle vast amounts of digital information.

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