Originally published on LinkedIn April 20th 2016
In this USDC of Southern Florida case (Brown Jordan v. Carmicle), the Court found the defendant had intentionally destroyed or withheld information from his work and home computers and phone.
Defendant was prohibited from taking his work and personal laptop with him when he was terminated. He was told that if he could provide proof that he had purchased the personal laptop with his own funds it would be released to him. Using his iPhone app he remotely accessed and locked his company laptop and claimed he thought he was locking his personal laptop. But he never tried to lock his personal laptop even when informed that he had locked the wrong device.
Up through trial he never provided the credentials to access the work laptop, claiming he couldn’t remember the PIN. He accessed all of the files on his personal laptop prior to turning it over for an examination, changing the file system metadata.
Shortly after termination he remotely accessed and reset his company owned iPad and shortly before termination he purchased a personal iPhone and reset his company issued iPhone.
Even though this was very little evidence identifying exactly what was destroyed or lost, the Court found the above conduct sufficiently egregious to warrant an adverse inference.
The company hired a forensic company to determine how the defendant had accessed other people’s email accounts (the primary reason for his termination). This company charged about $25,600 for its services and the Court determined that only $1600 – $1800 of that amount was for conducting the forensic exams of the company owned iPhone, iPad and the personal and work laptop. The Court did not identify why it parsed out those expenses, but one could surmise it intended to assess those amounts as costs in its final judgment.
Initially $1600 – $1800 seemed quite low to exam 4 devices but perhaps not since 2 of the devices had been factory reset; one of the devices couldn’t be accessed and the other device was examined for a limited purpose.