For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.
At this point the Lunada Bay Boys discovery-related complaints, cross-complaints, bitching, cross-bitching, moaning, cross-moaning, and so on and on and on have gotten so tortuously complexicated that there’s essentially no way to summarize them any longer. However, I will remind you all that there was a hearing on December 6 before Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver on spoliation of evidence by the City Defendants and most rapiest Bay Boy defendant Sr. Brant Blakeman.
At issue were some text messages that Blakeman failed to preserve. The texts were on a phone issued to him by the City of PVE, which is why they were involved. The plaintiffs asked Oliver to find that Blakeman and the City not only had a duty to preserve the texts but that they had been so adversely affected by their destruction that the court ought to make Blakeman and the City pay fines, pay fees, pay costs, their motions for summary judgment ought to be denied out of hand, and an instruction to the jury stating that they should draw an adverse implication from the destruction of the texts. Blakeman and the City argued that they didn’t do anything wrong at all because they had no duty to preserve anything. Just yesterday Magistrate Judge Oliver issued her report and recommendations on the issues raised during the hearing.
With respect to the City, Oliver found that while they did have a legal obligation to preserve evidence starting earlier than they claimed, no evidence was lost specifically due to the City’s inaction, so she declined to recommend any sanctions against the City. Blakeman, on the other hand, did a few bad things, according to the Magistrate Judge.
First of all, he did have a duty to preserve the text messages. Also he failed to take reasonable steps to preserve them. Finally, the text messages were lost because of his inaction, and this prejudices the plaintiffs’ case. However, Oliver declines to find that Blakeman did it on purpose, and so she declines to recommend the most harsh sanctions possible.
Basically, she’s recommending that Blakeman have to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys for their costs and fees in bringing the motion for sanctions against him, and that he submit to an additional deposition that he pay for on the subject of what happened to the text messages. Additionally she recommends that the plaintiffs be allowed to present evidence to the jury about his failure to preserve and that if Judge Otero thinks it’s justified at trial, he consider allowing an instruction to the jury on what kind of inferences they can draw from Blakeman’s actions. Finally, she declined to recommend that Blakeman’s motion for summary judgment be dismissed a priori. Turn the page for transcribed selections.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver Recommends That Because Defendant Brant Blakeman Failed To Preserve Text Messages After He Became Aware Of The Lawsuit He Must Pay Attorneys’ Fees And Costs For Motion For Sanctions And Cover Costs Of Additional Deposition On Subject Of What Happened To The Damn Text Messages!