Court Affirms Sanctions and Orders $100,000 Recompilation of Computerized Data from Hard Copy

Lombardo v. Broadway Stores, Inc., 2002 WL 86810 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan.22, 2002)

During the course of discovery, defendant repeatedly failed to provide substantive responses to interrogatories or produce certain categories of documents. Finally, more than a year after defendant had agreed to produce computerized payroll data, it revealed that certain computerized records had been “lost, misplaced or destroyed.” 2002 WL 81810, at *2.

Plaintiffs moved for sanctions. The court rejected defendant’s argument that hard copy payroll documents were the same as the computerized data, observing that the hard copy may have contained the same information, but that information was not equally accessible. “The computerized records had evidentiary unique value distinct from the hard copy records: They made the information accessible.” Id. at *8. The plaintiff estimated it would cost around $5 million to manually extract all of the necessary and pertinent information from five million pages of records; the defendant agreed to spend $100,000 to have an abbreviated recompilation of the data done. The court affirmed an award of $31,250 in sanctions, representing plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees spent in trying to secure defendant’s compliance with its discovery obligations.

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