Cost of deleting emails: $250,000, in this case

Courts are coming down hard on businesses that violate electronic discovery rules, making it even more critical for IT managers to maintain effective data retention plans.

Blitz U.S.A., Inc., an Oklahoma-based gas can manufacturer, was recently brought to court in a product liability case.

The plaintiff’s lawyer had also worked on a different case against Blitz — and after evidence was submitted, he noticed key documents he had previously seen were now missing.

The ensuing investigation showed Blitz had a less-than-thorough approach to e-discovery. The company assigned just one employee to find and gather critical documents. And that employee never spoke with the company’s IT department about how to search through electronic documents to find relevant information.

Blitz also failed to institute a litigation hold — the mandatory process of preserving relevant documents as soon as the company is aware a court case is pending. The employee charged with performing e-discovery also actively encouraged people to regularly delete emails, even while a litigation hold should have been in place.

In light of all those facts, the court ordered Blitz to pay $250,000 in sanctions. Also, the company must show a copy of this court’s opinion to any party it was involved in litigation with over the past two years and any company it enters into litigation with during the next five years.

One lesson for companies from this case: IT must be involved in the e-discovery process. If someone with technical skills had been notified of the litigation in a timely manner, Blitz could have properly held on to the necessary documents.

Cite: Green v. Blitz U.S.A, Inc.

Make Smarter Tech Decisions

Get the latest IT news, trends, and insights - delivered weekly.

Privacy Policy