Exterro's Weekly Case Law Update -- 20,000 Deleted Files Leads to Default Judgment (Trude et. al. v. Glenwood State Bank, et. al.)
By Jim Gill
This case commenced in 2011 and throughout its 3 year lifespan a set of combative e-discovery acts occurred between the plaintiff and defendant. Within this time frame, the plaintiffs committed the following:
- Ignored defendant’s document request and interrogatories for 2 months. Even though the plaintiffs did respond, the trial court sanctioned plaintiffs for defendant’s cost for bringing the motion.
- Based on a court order, defendant was entitled to forensically analyze defendant’s laptop. The forensic examiner determined that only hours before turning over the laptop plaintiffs deleted 20,000 files.
Considering these events and other misconduct (e.g. perjury, contradictory statements made to the court, etc.), the court entered a default judgment against the plaintiffs. Subsequently, plaintiffs appealed.
- TRIAL COURT RULING UPHELD. The appellate court found that plaintiffs “discovery violations were not isolated and clearly reflect a pattern to obstruct litigation tactically and to avoid disclosure.”
- WILLFUL, BAD FAITH BEHAVIOR JUSTIFY RULING. Dismissal is warranted in cases where a party “willfully and persistently fails to comply with a discovery order without justification or excuse.” Based on plaintiffs conduct, the appellate court held that their behavior consistently had no good faith justification.
Learn more about remedial measures a court can take and how a court deciphers if “an intent to deprive” was taken under Rule 37(e)(2). Read ”Remedial Measures Under Rule 37(e): Not as Simple as They May Seem” now.