Court Compels Defendant to Tap Knowledgeable IT Personnel

    Dec 27, 2016

    A recent South Dakota case, highlighted on, centered on how well an organization’s IT personnel should understand its systems, its data storage practices, and the access to that data.

    In Collins v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., the plaintiff, Collins, filed a motion to compel discovery. He claimed the defendants provided an insufficient response to a legal interrogatory that asked for “the person most familiar with [defendants’] electronic claims systems and electronic claims database,” such as an IT member.

    In response to that interrogatory, the St. Paul Fire & Marine had said the persons most familiar with the company’s electronic systems and database were the claims adjustors and the supervisors who handled the claims. To locate an IT member would be unduly burdensome and irrelevant, the defendants argued.

    The court sided with Collins, saying that IT personnel have knowledge of the systems, of how the company stores data, and of who can access that data – knowledge that is far superior to that of the claims adjustors. Accordingly, the court granted the motion to compel.

    The court’s action here suggests a legal expectation that IT teams be familiar with certain aspects of electronic records management. Indeed, for the best business efficiencies and to ensure compliance with legal and organizational policies, RIM/IG must work closely with IT professionals to ensure they know what they need to know.

    ARMA International has long maintained that in order to be successful, information governance initiatives must be interdisciplinary in nature.  It is no longer sufficient for the technology personnel to know only the technology, and for the business units to understand only their process and not the underlying technology. The RIM staff is in a prime position to help the organization understand its practices in the most holistic manner, by integrating a knowledge of the business practices, the records and information crucial to the process, the technology used and the legal requirements the organization must meet.

    A first step toward building this cross-disciplinary understanding can be educating the various team members on the perspective brought by the others. To that end, these reosurces from the ARMA International online store can be useful:

    • Understanding Electronic Records Storage Technologies (ARMA TR 26-2014)
    • Secure Management of Private Information (ARMA International TR 28-2015)
    • Mobile Communications and Records and Information Management (ARMA TR 20-2012)
    • Working Collaboratively in an Electronic World


    © 2017, ARMA International