Saturday, December 7, 2013

Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC case brief

Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC case brief summary
220 F.R.D. 212 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff employee sued defendant employer alleging gender discrimination, failure to promote, and retaliation under federal, state, and city law. The employee sought sanctions against the employer for its failure to preserve the missing backup tapes and deleted emails. The employee sought costs for the restoration of the backup tapes, an adverse inference instruction, and costs for re-depositions.

CASE FACTS
The employee, an equities trader, maintained that the evidence needed to prove her gender discrimination, failure to promote, and retaliation claims existed in e-mail correspondence sent among various employees and was only stored on the employer's computer systems. The parties were previously ordered to share the costs of restoring backup tapes that contained relevant e-mails. During the restoration, the parties discovered that certain relevant tapes were missing. The employee sought sanctions for the failure to preserve the missing backup tapes and deleted e-mails. The court found that the duty to preserve the missing tapes arose when the relevant people at the employer anticipated litigation, four months before the employee filed her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge.

DISCUSSION
  • Because the employer was negligent, and possibly reckless, the employee satisfied her burden with respect to the first two prongs of the spoliation test. 
  • However, the employee failed to show that the lost tapes contained relevant information. 
  • Under the circumstances, it was inappropriate to give an adverse inference instruction to the jury.

CONCLUSION
The employee's motions for adverse inference instruction and for reconsideration of the order denying the costs for restoration of the backup tapes. The employee's motion for costs for the additional depositions was granted.

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