PST files can help to learn and understand "the rest of the story"
Article by Frederick C. Kucklick
Complex cases I have handled as a litigation consultant or expert witness, such as breaches of contracts and misappropriations of trade secrets, are generally document dense. I have found PST (Personal Storage Table) files from litigants’ email records to contain significant amounts of relevant native format material that I could rely on to form my opinions and provide useful exhibits and illustrations.
I have worked as an expert witness in numerous document dense litigations. Attorneys have typically produced materials to me in file boxes or PDF files. Documentary review required handling and reading every page. However, in some cases I have found that reviewing PDF or paper files alone lacked important information, in addition to being cumbersome to review and sort. Recently I have asked for and received all production, including PST files from the parties’ computers. PST files can be imported to an email program such as Microsoft Outlook, which comes equipped with powerful search tools. I have reviewed parties’ PST files that have contained hundreds or thousands of email messages, of course; but, more importantly, I have found their attachments to contain some very revealing information, in the context in which it was transmitted, and I could trace several generations of revisions, markups, and discussions concerning them. I have also found critical documents that, for whatever reason, were not produced, were produced in native format without context, or were buried within Bates-number-titled PDF files along with mountains of other material.
I have considered and relied on email attachments containing CAD drawings, project management files, and spreadsheets in native format, requiring specific software programs to open and analyze, that contained information that was inaccessible from produced PDFs of the same documents. For example, reviewing spreadsheets directly on a program such as Microsoft Excel permits data analysis and sorting; CAD files reviewed on engineering software can reveal detailed analysis of produced engineering drawings that would be impossible from PDFs; and reviewing native format project management files using application-specific software can disclose critical, otherwise unavailable details of a complex industrial project. Equally important, I have found that information contained in the PST files allowed me to tie together critical versions, authors, details and sequences of communications, spanning months or years.
Studies of PST files can also reveal transmission patterns among the senders and recipients that could suggest, due to changes in message frequency, messages contained in the recipient’s file but not in the sender’s, and other patterns, that messages had been deleted by one or more of the persons or parties.
In addition to providing valuable information, the use of PST files and their search capabilities can save discovery time for the expert and retaining counsel.
Frederick C. (Fritz) Kucklick is founder and president of IMT Consulting, Inc., and provides management, engineering and litigation support for CEOs, managers, and attorneys. IMTC's clients include multinational and privately held companies. Litigation consulting and expert witness matters for which Kucklick has been retained include breach of contract disputes, patent infringements, misappropriations of trade secrets, industrial espionage, and products liabilities in state and federal courts and arbitration.
Fritz Kucklick's manufacturing, management and engineering expertise are based on a mechanical engineering degree and skills developed during more than 25 years' hands-on ownership, top management, international sales, design engineering, field startup, troubleshooting & installation, and project management positions with automotive Tier One, machine tool and heavy machinery manufacturing companies in the U.S. and Europe.