Edwards v. Junior State of Am. Found. (E.D. Tex. 2021)
Key Insight: At issue were “racist and homophobic Facebook messages” one high school student allegedly sent to another high school student (plaintiff), both of whom were members of the defendant’s youth organization. Plaintiffs provided a partial .jpeg image (screenshot) of the alleged message and defendant requested additional ESI to authenticate the messages, namely HTML or JSON files, and associated metadata. Plaintiffs never objected to the discovery requests and failed to produce any documents for over a year. Plaintiffs then admitted through a digital forensics experts that the Facebook account had been permanently deleted and the native versions of the alleged messages had been destroyed. The court declined to dismiss the case under Rule 37(b)(2)(A) but applied Rule 37(e), finding that the native messages were relevant ESI and were deleted around the time plaintiffs had a duty to preserve them, and they could not be adequately replaced by the available screenshots. Therefore, plaintiffs would be precluded from offering any evidence about the alleged messages.
Nature of Case: Civil Rights
Electronic Data Involved: Facebook Messages