Archive: March 20, 2008

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No Sanctions Warranted for Failure to Produce “Smoking Gun” Email, Where Email System Did Not Retain Any Sent Emails

No Sanctions Warranted for Failure to Produce “Smoking Gun” Email, Where Email System Did Not Retain Any Sent Emails

Clearone Communications, Inc. v. Chiang, 2008 WL 704228 (D. Utah Mar. 10, 2008)

In this case involving claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and conversion, plaintiff sought sanctions for two claimed wrongs:  (1) defendants’ belated production of, and misrepresentations about, source code complete with developer comments; and (2) defendants’ failure to produce “smoking gun” email, which was produced by another party who was the recipient of the email.

The so-called “smoking gun” email was written by defendant Lonny Bowers on September 5, 2005.  Bowers was one of the founders and principals of defendant WideBand.  The email was only discovered in documents produced by defendant Biamp, the recipient of the email, not in any discovery from the WideBand defendants.  The WideBand defendants explained that the computer system used by Bowers did not retain copies of email sent by Bowers.  On this point, the court observed:

For any business this is a significant irregularity; almost unimaginable for a technology company; and even more unlikely for a person of Bowers’ importance in such a company.  Nonetheless, it does not appear that the September 5, 2005, email was withheld by WideBand Defendants — they did not have any copies of emails sent by Bowers. 

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