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Monetary Sanctions Imposed Following Emails Deleted From Family Computer

Posted on January 27th, 2016

In Prezio Health, Inc. v. Schenk, et. al., Case No. 13-1463 (D. Conn., Jan. 11, 2016), Plaintiff filed a Motion for Sanctions after Defendants failed to comply with a previous court order compelling Defendants to produce metadata for eight specific emails. After the court entered the order, Plaintiff notified the court by letter that Defendants had provided a metadata report regarding the  emails and that Plaintiff would review it. Twelve days later, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Sanctions alleging spoliation of evidence for deleted emails.

Plaintiff alleged that its computer expert was only able to find five of the eight emails on Defendant Schenk’s computer and that the three most important emails had been deleted during the litigation. In its Motion, Plaintiff sought to strike Defendants’ Answer and Affirmative Defenses and sought judgment in its favor with damages. Plaintiff also sought an injunction against Defendants’ working together for 12 months and an adverse inference instruction.

In defense, Defendants alleged that Schenk rarely used the computer and that it was also used by his wife and children, all of whom understood not to delete any emails; his wife stated that they may have been deleted when she switched over to a new iPad. Defendants also argued that Defendant Spectrum is not alleged to be involved and any sanctions should be against Schenk only. Plaintiff countered that both Defendants were liable as they had been “joined at the hip” for the entire litigation. Plaintiff also asserted that Schenk was grossly negligent, as simply telling his family not to delete emails was insufficient.

The court agreed that Schenk’s instruction to his family was “grossly deficient,” but found an adverse inference instruction too severe, and instead imposed monetary sanctions against both Defendants.

ILS – Plaintiff ESI Discovery Experts

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