Hoover v. Florida Hydro, Inc., Case No. Civil 07-1100 (E.D.La. Oct. 1, 2008)

Defendant’s majority shareholder, Williams, created and obtained a patent for a hydroelectric generator but couldn’t find any funding to commercialize the invention. Plaintiff, Hoover, helped by developing a business plan, purportedly in exchange for a verbal offer of half of the Florida Hydro stock which was never memorialized or exchanged, and therefore resulted in this lawsuit.

The defendant requested production of electronic data storage for a roommate of Hoover and Hoover’s mother. Hoover argues that Florida Hydro is not entitled to inspect the identical electronic data that was already submitted in hard-copy format as a response to an earlier subpoena. The court “acknowledges but disagrees with Hoover’s suggestion that, if Florida Hydro wished to challenge the completeness of [his mother’s] earlier production, it should have filed a motion to compel. A party is free to utilize the discovery method it deems appropriate…”Opinion at 4.

Since Hoover’s mother had previously revealed she had electronic information from Florida Hydro on her computer, the court allowed forensic computer inspection. The court, though, found no defect in the responses of Hoover’s roommate and thus quashed the subpoena for the production of his computer.

Hoover then claimed that he has used his mother’s computer for communication with his lawyers and thus it was protected by attorney-client privilege. The court was “not persuaded that the electronic search could not be configured so as to exclude these communications…” and therefore allowed the search. Opinion at 5.

The court did order Florida Hydro to “prepare and exchange a Search Protocol with Hoover prior to the production and inspection of [Hoover’s mother’s] computer”, apparently attempting to preempt other discovery issues in this case. Opinion at 5.

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