Magazine article Information Management

Courts Sanction for Facebook Spoliation

Magazine article Information Management

Courts Sanction for Facebook Spoliation

Article excerpt

In what legal experts say is the largest e-discovery sanction penalty ever aimed at an attorney, a Virginia state judge hit both the lawyer and his client with large penalties for altering the content of a Facebook page.

The judge ordered Matthew Murray to pay $522,000 for instructing his client to remove photos from his Facebook page and ordered the client to pay $180,000 for obeying and lying about it. In Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., Isaiah Lester sued Allied Concrete Co. and William Donald Sprouse, seeking monetary damages for negligence and wrongful death in the car accident that killed his wife. In e-mails, Murray instructed Lester to remove several photos from his social media account because he feared they would prejudice Lester's wrongful death case. Lester also deactivated his Facebook account per Murray's instructions.

The court awarded $8 million to Lester, but after a motion from Allied Concrete, the court later found that Lester engaged in the spoliation of evidence by deactivating his Facebook account and claiming he didn't have an account in his original "misleading response. …

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