Lighthouse Key Document Identification Proves Pivotal to Antitrust Defense

Lighthouse leveraged linguistic expertise and cutting-edge analytics to efficiently locate only the documents that mattered in a complicated, year-long antitrust criminal investigation and trial.

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Total Original Documents


Total Key Documents Delivered for Defense Preparation

What They Needed

Senior executives from a global food manufacturing company faced federal criminal antitrust charges related to allegations of 15 instances of price fixing over a five-year period. A joint defense team comprised of outside counsel representing each of the executives was assembled by the company.

The prosecution expected to make rolling productions of evidence up to and through the trial. As those productions rolled in, the joint defense team could tell that many of the evidentiary documents, timelines, and conversations that were key to the prosecution’s case were taken out of context or failed to include all the exculpatory evidence. However, the joint defense team was having trouble finding key evidence because much of the nuance was located within piecemeal chat conversations and complex bid spreadsheets that were buried among millions of similar documents.

The joint defense team needed a document search team that was nimble and could quickly identify the most important documents to the defense and share them across the team. They came to Lighthouse because we could quickly identify key documents with accuracy and nuance.

How We Did It

Lighthouse first organized a central search desk, where all members of the joint defense team could go for document search requests, with results shared across three defense teams.

Next, the Lighthouse team located the most important documents related to each of the 15 episodes of price-fixing allegations, on a priority basis. They used linguistic expertise to create narrow searches, taking into consideration the nuance of acronyms, slang, and terminology used within the company and the food manufacturing industry. They also leveraged Lighthouse’s proprietary, cutting-edge search analytic tools to look for key information buried in hundreds of thousands of Excel spreadsheets and chat messages.

As the government produced more documents, the Lighthouse team refreshed their searches, looking for key documents in each new production and quickly sharing results across the defense team.

As defense preparations continued throughout the year, we we supported all aspects of trial preparation, including two mock trials, all witness preparation binders, and the James hearing. Lighthouse support will continue through the criminal trial for the senior executives, due to our proven success in supporting ad hoc search requests and providing results in real time.

The Results

The Lighthouse team efficiently delivered incredibly accurate results, saving the underlying client more than $3M thus far. Out of an always-in-flux review population that eventually grew to over 16M documents, Lighthouse was able to cull through the irrelevant data to find and deliver only the most important documents for the defense team’s utilization. In the end, that amounted to less than 1% of the initial review population, including:

  • 4.7K documents for the joint defense group to defend the episodes of alleged price fixing
  • 5.3K documents for defense team’s specific ad hoc and witness kit requests (an average of 400 documents per witness kit)

In comparison, a traditional linear review using search terms and conventional analytics performed by multiple case teams typically results in 5-20% of the data population being tagged as “key documents.” This volume would then be funneled to the case teams for review as well, where they would waste valuable time and resources looking at hundreds of thousands of irrelevant or run-of-the-business documents.

In addition to cost-efficiency, the team has gained expertise in the key events, timelines, and context of conversations buried within the data. As such, the team is now a critical resource to the defense, supporting all stages of the investigation and assisting in pivot ad hoc requests. Examples include finding a unique pricing document buried among volumes of near duplicates, as well as the relevant context surrounding a single line of a chat message.

In the end, Lighthouse saved the underlying company significant time and money that could not have been achieved otherwise. Additionally, our expertise in the data was a critical resource to the joint defense team, which relied on Lighthouse at each step of trial preparation. Lighthouse expert support will continue throughout the criminal trial.