Saturday, December 28, 2013

Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (Zubulake V) case brief

Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (Zubulake V) case brief summary
229 F.R.D. 422 (July 20, 2004)

Plaintiff employee, in an employment discrimination dispute, filed a Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 motion to sanction defendant for its failure to produce relevant information and for its tardy production of such material.

Plaintiff presented evidence that, inter alia, defendant's personnel had deleted relevant e-mails, some of which were subsequently recovered from backup tapes (or elsewhere) and thus produced to plaintiff long after her initial document requests, and some of which were lost altogether.


  • The district court awarded Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 sanctions, noting that because defendant's spoliation was willful, the lost information was presumed to be relevant. 
  • Specifically, defendant failed to preserve relevant e-mails, even after receiving adequate warnings from counsel, resulting in the production of some relevant e-mails almost two years after they were initially requested and resulting in the complete destruction of others. 
  • Further, the court observed that defendant's counsel had failed to communicate the litigation hold to all of the litigation's key players and failed to ascertain each of the key players' document management habits such that for "unknown" reasons, defendant's employees ignored many of the instructions. 
  • Accordingly, the court held that defendant and its counsel had not taken all necessary steps to guarantee that relevant data was both preserved and produced.
The district court ordered sanctions, including payment for re-deposing and of expenses incurred in moving for sanctions, related to defendant's willful destruction of presumed relevant e-mails.

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