November 03, 2016 Top Story

Deletion of Emails Leads to Sanctions

Terminating sanctions reversed in favor of a prohibition on the presentation of evidence

Matthew S. Mulqueen

An owner's deletion of emails during litigation cost his company the ability to put on proof of liability or damages for the time covering the period of the lost emails. Flagship Theatres of Palm Desert, LLC v. Century Theatres, Inc. serves as a stern reminder of the duty to preserve electronic evidence from the moment litigation is reasonably anticipated.

Act I: Messages Deleted

Plaintiff Flagship Theatres of Palm Desert, LLC operated an independent movie theater complex in Palm Desert, California. After the theater complex found itself unable to obtain as many desirable movies from distributors as it expected, it filed an antitrust action against Century Theatres, Inc., Century's successor Cinemark USA, Inc., and two film distributors. The theater complex alleged Cinemark, owner of a large chain of theaters, had conspired with the distributors to deny the theater complex access to desirable movies.

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