December 18, 2019 Top Story

Intentional Spoliation Causes a Purple Rain of Sanctions

Sanctions ordered for intentionally lost text messages and destroyed phones

By Benjamin E. Long

A federal court has ordered monetary spoliation sanctions against a record label for its intentional failure to preserve text messages and the destruction of mobile phones in a copyright dispute with the estate of musician Prince. The court also awarded attorney fees and costs, and reserved judgment on additional sanctions such as an adverse-inference jury instruction. ABA Section of Litigation leaders urge companies to have clear policies regarding preservation of employees’ texts when litigation is possible.

Sanctions ordered against record label for the intentional destruction of evidence in a copyright dispute with Prince's estate

Sanctions ordered against record label for the intentional destruction of evidence in a copyright dispute with Prince's estate

iStockphoto by Getty Images

Prince Estate Disputes Music Release

Rogue Music Alliance (RMA) and its two principals partnered with Prince’s former sound engineer to publish some of the artist’s unreleased music. One of the prinicpals, Staley, sent an email on February 11, 2017, stating that he was going to release the music. That email also reflected the principal’s recognition that the Prince Estate might sue them over the release.

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