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Case Blurb: Thai Heng Chang; Court orders immediate production of e-mail from previously undisclosed account

Posted by rjbiii on September 16, 2008

Post Process: The court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel, and motion to impose sanctions for inadequate discovery. The court delayed determination of appropriate sanctions until a later date. Below is an excerpt of the opinion, discusses Defendant’s undisclosed yahoo e-mail account.

At issue are [inter alia]: emails from the account edsmith1818@yahoo.com…
Plaintiff contends that it only recently learned of another email account used by the Defendant that should have been identified in response to Interrogatory No. 2, which Plaintiff served upon Defendant on November 6, 2007. Plaintiff contends that Defendant should supplement his document production to include these emails, which it alleges contain highly relevant information crucial to the issues raised in this case.

Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendant used this specific email account to engage in the activities upon which this entire lawsuit is based. Defendant represents to Plaintiff and the Court that he cannot produce the emails because they have been destroyed by Yahoo! He offers a copy of a generic response from Yahoo! regarding deactivating accounts, but Plaintiff has attached to its motion a copy of a letter from Defendant’s counsel to Yahoo! regarding a subpoena served in the Georgia case for the hankchang138@yahoo.com account. Nothing in that letter indicates a problem with Yahoo! complying with a subpoena for emails in that account despite Defendant’s assertion that they had been deleted. Perhaps Yahoo! has a process for obtaining emails from deactivated accounts as well. Regardless, the Court does not at this time accept Defendant’s explanation that production of these documents is “impossible,” particularly given the important evidentiary value of these emails and the feeble offering by Defendant in support of his contention. The Court further finds that Defendant’s representation that he was being “completely truthful” when he did not identify this account because he knew it would be impossible to ultimately produce these emails, to be sanctionable. It will figure largely into the sanctions ultimately awarded in this matter if it is learned that Defendant’s failure to identify this account earlier is the cause of the alleged impossibility.

As an initial matter, Defendant shall immediately make all possible efforts to obtain the emails in account edmith1818@yahoo.com and shall then produce all documents in this account without further objection or delay…The Court will not accept Defendant’s position that he cannot produce these emails until assurance is given from an executive at Yahoo! responsible for such tasks that this request is indeed impossible.

Infinite Energy, Inc. v. Thai Heng Chang, 2008 WL 4098329 at *1 (N.D.Fla. Aug. 29, 2008 ).

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Posted in 11th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Data Sources, Duty to Disclose, Duty to Produce, email, Magistrate Judge Allan Kornblum, N.D. Fla., Sanctions | Leave a Comment »