Stroz Friedberg’s adroit and authoritative forensic analysis helped establish the basis for a landmark spoliation decision that awarded a default judgment in a case in which the defendant was found to have tampered with electronic evidence. This major ruling demonstrated the court’s appreciation of the seriousness of electronic records tampering as well as the court’s willingness to issue severe sanctions for such actions.
The case had been mired in contentious wrangling for five years when the key defendant finally made his laptop computer available for examination. A preliminary evaluation by the plaintiff demonstrated that, despite a preservation order, the computer had been tampered with in the days preceding its presentation; the defendant vehemently contested that claim. The court called upon Stroz Friedberg, renowned for its impartial and expert forensic skills, to conduct a forensic analysis of the computer and to accurately present the forensic evidence.
Our forensic report and court testimony demonstrated that the defendant had removed thousands of files, copied selected files back onto the computer, uninstalled and reinstalled the computer’s operating system, and repeatedly changed the system clock date and time, in an attempt to make it seem that the final operating system installation had taken place at an earlier date. Stroz Friedberg identified this evidence through the expert forensic analysis of file system metadata, file metadata, registry “hives,” and system logs that revealed significant data deletion and alteration activity, actions consistent with those of a person trying to hide or remove computer data. Our analyst’s presentation of these findings in court proved penetrating and decisive.
The judge’s landmark finding in favor of the plaintiff not only delivered a victory in the spoliation case before him, but, far more significantly, a default judgment in the lengthy multi-million-dollar dispute that lay at the heart of the original litigation. And it all relied on the neutral and incontestable presentations of Stroz Friedberg forensics.