The Associated Press is reporting that a computer server containing key information about Georgia’s election system was wiped clean shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking public records about election data. The security of Georgia’s voting information has been scrutinized since a review of the computer system revealed that a security hole had been detected and went unfixed for an extended period of time. A public interest group filed a lawsuit seeking access to the computer server’s data as evidence for their claims that Georgia’s electronic election process is dangerously out of date and susceptible to hackers. All information from the server was apparently destroyed by computer technicians at the state’s election office back in July. If essential information to a lawsuit, like the server’s information in this case, is purposefully destroyed after a civil lawsuit is filed, the party destroying the information can be subjected to claims of spoliation of evidence. In Washington State, spoliation of evidence comes with significant penalties, ranging from monetary penalties to a forfeiting a lawsuit.
Last year, PCVA attorneys Darrell Cochran and Loren Cochran, working with co-counsel, obtained over $1 million in sanctions from the State of Washington for spoliation of evidence is a lawsuit over the devastating Oso landslide. 43 people were killed and 7 were injured in the March 22, 2014, disaster. The plaintiffs filed a complaint with the trial judge asking for a penalty against the State and its attorneys for destroying email messages exchanged between the State’s scientific experts on the case. King County Judge Roger Rogoff agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered the State to pay costs, attorneys fees and a penalty total more than $1 million. The case settled for $60 million dollars shortly after the judge’s ruling on spoliation. If you have a case involving spoliation of evidence, PCVA may be able to help.