While there are new FRCP rules that more clearly define when spoliation sanctions are warranted, the court is still afforded a variety of sources of authority to sanction parties for e-discovery misconduct.
The defendants moved for case dismissal against the plaintiff based on the production of 67 photos that may have been intentionally altered by the plaintiff.
In this civil rights case, the plaintiff contended that defendants entered her house without a warrant and damaged property. Within e-discovery, the plaintiff produced photos to show the condition of her house after the improper search was conducted. The plaintiff testified that the photos produced were taken days after the incident.
Based on conflicting testimony on who took the photos, the defendants produced the photos’ native files, including metadata. After checking the photos’ metadata, the photos were found to have been taken two years after the incident.
Download the PDF version of Lawrence v. City of New York case law alert here.
Must lawyers producing digital photographs first check metadata to help ensure that the pictures are not fraudulent? Noting that attorneys are generally entitled to rely on representations of their clients, Judge Pauley opined here that Plaintiff’s attorney’s failure to check metadata “may have been careless, but was not objectively unreasonable.”