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Litigation Holds and Governor Christie

When dealing with legal matters, company records and data pertaining to litigation is of vital importance in the resolution of the matter at hand.  When a company becomes aware that it is involved in, or may become involved in, litigation, a litigation hold should…
Litigation Holds
When dealing with legal matters, company records and data pertaining to litigation is of vital importance in the resolution of the matter at hand.  When a company becomes aware that it is involved in, or may become involved in, litigation, a litigation hold should be entered.  A litigation hold (sometimes referred to as a preservation order or a hold order) prevents the destruction, alteration, or hiding of any and all data or information that may become a part of the discovery process at a later time in the litigation.
Today, email has become extremely valuable in many cases.  The recent “bridge scandal” involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made public through leaked emails between a Christie aid and some state workers, involved allegations that the George Washington Bridge was blocked in retaliation to the decision of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to withhold his endorsement of the Governor’s reelection bid this past year.  With the public eye focused on this “bridge scandal” and more emails and texts being revealed, the call for further investigation is mounting.  Inevitably, any investigation will begin with the email and text accounts of those in Governor Christie’s office.  The ordeal currently facing the gubernatorial team is a prime example of the power of records – and the need to properly maintain them.
Many companies have an archive which saves all electronic exchanges throughout their matters while also instructing employees to save potentially valuable exchanges.  For instance, Microsoft Exchange servers allow administrators the ability to place a litigation hold on specific users as they see fit.  In these instances where a hold may be appropriate, the routine deletion of records is prevented.
As soon as you believe you (or your company) may have a claim against someone, it is extremely important notify the potential defendant of its duty to maintain all records involved in your claim.  On the other hand, if you are advised that someone has a claim against you (or your company) you will want to take all steps to ensure that the information pertaining to that potential claim is protected so that you do no become liable for destruction or spoliation of evidence.
Seemingly on a daily basis, celebrities, politicians, and business moguls are undone by the exchanges they make through text, e-mail, on Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  It is precisely for this reason that the litigation hold exists and should be used:  to ensure that if a potential claim arises, the most common pieces of evidence (such as email records) are readily available for examination.

Today, email servers, contact information, handheld devices, and computer devices continually change overnight from company to company, making it difficult to maintain control over the flow of information.  The lawyers at KHF can help you create policies and institute best practices procedures to ensure the proper preservation of your data.  And, should you find yourself on either end of a lawsuit, the lawyers at KHF can assist in obtaining or complying with a litigation hold order.

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