The employee Plaintiff, James Plasse, was punished again by the district court for his alteration and destruction of electronic evidence, and ordered to pay the employer defendant $55,472.32. Plasse v. Tyco Elec. Corp,2006 WL 3445610 (D.Mass. Nov. 8, 2006).
This is a sequel to one of our favorite decisions where the Plaintiff’s case was dismissed with prejudice as a sanction for his inartful attempt to change the dates on documents on his home computer, and other e-discovery abuses. Plasse v. Tyco Elec. Corp.,2006 WL 2623441, (D.Ma. Sept. 7, 2006) (Commentary and full text included in the Case Law section of our private web at www.e-discoveryteam.com). In Plasse I, a forensic examination of the plaintiff’s home computer exposed his clumsy fraud. At the end of the opinion in Plasse I, the court invited the defendant to move for fees and costs, suggesting that further punishment was in order against Plasse.
In Plasse II, the court awards one half of the fees incurred, and all of defendant’s e-discovery costs. The fees were awarded under the court’s inherent equitable power to do so “against the party that has acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons.” Only one-half of the fees sought were awarded because the Court found “some degree of duplication and overkill.” All of the costs were awarded as punishment for the plaintiff who tried to mislead the Court by altering data on his computer. In the words of the judge: “The court will award Defendant its full costs, since retention of experts was particularly necessary to uncover Plaintiff’s skullduggery.”