Koosharem Corp v. Spec Personnel, LLC, Case No. Civil 6:08-583-HFF-WMC (D.S.C. Sept. 29, 2008)
The plaintiff in this case runs a national human resource outsourcing company that provides staffing services to the transportation industry. The defendant, a former Vice President of Plaintiff, is now employed with a direct competitor and hired away several employees to join him.
Discovery in this case involved email requests, but when the emails were produced in response, every email had been modified to reflect the date the email was compiled, not the dates they were sent. In addition, “irregularities” in the emails called into question the authenticity of the documents. These irregularities included an email from a person who was not listed as sender or recipient and emails missing attachments. The plaintiffs believed the documents had been modified after the defendants were put on notice of the litigation and thus a failure to execute a proper litigation hold.
The court found forensic analysis of the home computers of the defendant-employees appropriate. The plaintiff believed there were confidential documents emailed from the plaintiff’s workplace to home computers immediately prior to the employees moving to the competitor-defendant. The employees also used their home computers for their first month of work with the defendant’s business. The court also ordered the computer forensic analyst to determine whether any programs have been installed that would “alter, destroy, erase, modify, or otherwise compromise any portion of each computer or its contents…” Opinion at 2.
The suspicion surrounding the first email production caused much more time and expense for both sides in this case. This initial request should be taken seriously to avoid these issues.