Following a 2019 Food & Drug Administration recall of a drug that was thought to contain a harmful contaminant, numerous lawsuits were filed against the pharmaceutical manufacturer in multiple states. The matter eventually consolidated into class action litigation, triggering a widespread investigation spanning three countries. Over the course of more than 18 months, FTI Technology’s Digital Forensics & Investigations team conducted the investigation across numerous facilities and more than 80 custodians, overcoming complex challenges relating to cross-border data transfer issues, Chinese state secrets restrictions and global data privacy regulations.
The corporation and its law firm engaged FTI Technology in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, after their initial provider was unable to deliver the localized support and expertise needed to kick-off the investigation in China, where the client was headquartered, and the majority of its data was stored. With international travel locked down, onsite support at the client’s multiple Chinese facilities could only be provided by local team members. When the data collection shifted to focus on the client’s U.S. operations, most U.S. states had locked down, and FTI Technology’s team had to establish a remote collection methodology that could accommodate the matter’s scale and data security requirements.
In addition to addressing logistical barriers, the team also supported the client in meeting extensive data handling challenges, including converting hundreds of thousands of paper documents and lab notes into a digital format for use within the analysis and review platform. Given the nature of the case, the data set also included sensitive information including intellectual property and trade secrets, which required the implementation of specific access and security controls during data collection, review, transfer and production. Similarly, additional reviews and removal of certain information were needed to maintain compliance in China with the State Secrets Law and other data protection laws, and in Europe under GDPR.
FTI Technology maintains a robust team of digital forensics, investigations and e-discovery experts throughout Asia Pacific. With outside counsel unable to travel to client sites in China, the local FTI Technology team in Shanghai quickly became valued advisors for the local client and their international counterparts. The month before on-site collections began, the team conducted daily calls to establish trust and develop the foundation for a successful and efficient investigation, including scope, organization and data charts, custodian questionnaires, collection processes and other documentation.
On-site collections were conducted using FTI Technology’s proven methodologies and completed in half the estimated time. Once all of the data from within China was collected, the team provided key solutions and services including:
This ongoing matter represents one of the largest and most restrictive matters FTI Technology’s teams have encountered. Despite countless challenges and an aggressive opposing side, the team has delivered across every requirement.