The largest amount of sanctions against a defendant in Georgia was awarded this week by Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Bagley. It was determined that the defendant, Pulte Home Corp., engaged in a pattern of willful spoliation of electronic evidence in an environmental lawsuit brought by plaintiff homeowners. An investigation revealed that Pulte had deleted emails and erased hard drives despite discovery requests to turn over that evidence. The spoliation issue is likely to be an issue in the trial against the developer.
Without a formal notice (a "spoliation letter") from an attorney, the store may re-record over that videotape. Stores typically reuse videotape so time is of the essence when trying to obtain such video evidence. Once a company is on notice from the personal injury attorney that the videotape may contain evidence, it is obligated to preserve it. Destroying such evidence, willfully or otherwise, could expose the company to sanctions, as was the case with Pulte Home Corporation.