Archive: September 8, 2009

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Texas Supreme Court Finds Abuse of Discretion in Grant of Access to Defendant’s Computers, Summarizes Proper Procedure under Tex. R. Civ. P. 196.4

Texas Supreme Court Finds Abuse of Discretion in Grant of Access to Defendant’s Computers, Summarizes Proper Procedure under Tex. R. Civ. P. 196.4

In re Weekley Homes, L.P., 295 S.W.3d 309 (Tex. 2009)

In this mandamus proceeding, the Supreme Court of Texas found that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering four of defendant’s employees to turn over their computer hard drives for forensic examination.

In 2007, after adding Weekley Homes, L.P. (“Weekley”) to an already pending breach of contract suit, plaintiff HFG Enclave Land Interests, Ltd. (“HFG”) served requests for production, including requests for “a broad variety of emails.”  Weekley produced thirty-one responsive emails.  Unconvinced that more correspondence did not exist, HFG filed a motion to compel additional searching.  At hearing on the issue, Weekley explained that the employees’ inboxes were limited in size and, when full, had to be emptied by manual deletion of the messages therein.  Accordingly, Weekley’s employees were “force[d]” to clear out their inboxes regularly.  Emails would be saved only if backed up by an employee to his or her hard drive.  The deleted emails were saved on backup tapes for thirty days.  The trial court denied HFG’s motion.

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