"Specifically looking at Nursing Home Pension Fund v. Oracle, No. C 01-00988 SI (N.D. Calif. 2008), a shareholders' class action brought by purchasers of Oracle Corp. stock against officers of the company and related defendants, I noted that defendants produced more than 1,665 e-mails to or from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, but that only 15 of those e-mails were identified as having come from Ellison's e-mail box
The facts underlying the e-mail spoliation claim are confusing as the court presented them and, at the risk of insult, confused. The court first found that it was "undisputed that defendants produced only 15 e-mails sent or received by Ellison from Ellison's own e-mail files, and defendants do not contend that all of Ellison's e-mails were preserved in his files." It immediately then noted defendants' explanation that "over 1,650 of Ellison's e-mails were produced to plaintiffs from the files of other Oracle employees" and defendants' reliance upon Wachtel v. Health Net, Inc., No. 2007 WL 1101436 (D.N.J. April 10, 2007), for the proposition that plaintiffs were "not entitled to receive multiple copies of Ellison's e-mails."
Remarkably, the court rejected defendants' explanation because it disagreed with their contention that plaintiffs were not entitled to duplicates of e-mails. Rather, the court found spoliation because it thought that it "could have been helpful to plaintiffs to demonstrate that certain e-mails were discovered in Ellison's files; otherwise, for instance, Ellison could argue that he never actually read or received an e-mail that was sent to him, and thus had no knowledge of its contents.'"