Shaffer v. Gaither, No. 5:14-cv-00106-MOC-DSC (W.D.N.C. Sept. 1, 2016)

Key Insight: Court found dismissal was a disproportionate sanction for failure to preserve text messages lost when phone was dropped and broken but did conclude that Plaintiff and her counsel failed to take ?reasonable steps to preserve? those texts which resided only on Plaintiff?s phone, reasoning that ?[o]nce it is clear that a litigant has ESI that is relevant to reasonably anticipated litigation, steps should be taken to preserve that material, such as printing out the texts, making an electronic copy of such texts, cloning the phone, or even taking possession of the phone and instructing the client to simply get another one?; court indicated defendant would be free to examine witnesses who had read the texts and explore the circumstances surrounding their destruction and further indicated that the court had not ruled out a spoliation instruction, an option reserved until after the court heard the evidence at trial

Nature of Case: Employment litigation

Electronic Data Involved: Explicit text messages

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