Alston & Bird, Document Review, Email Scandals, Technology

Dude, You’re Getting A Dell… Runaround?

Discovery disputes, like a certain other thing, happen. But it’s not often that these happenings make the pages of the New York Times. An article on the front page of the business section reports:

Dell has been accused of withholding evidence, including e-mails among its top executives, in a lawsuit over faulty computers it sold to businesses, according to a filing made Thursday. Advanced Internet Technologies filed a motion in Federal District Court in North Carolina asserting that Dell had deliberately violated a court order by failing to produce documents written by its executives, including the company’s chief executive and founder, Michael S. Dell.

The filing is the latest twist in a three-year-old lawsuit brought by A.I.T. that accuses Dell of selling at least 11.8 million faulty PCs over three years and then trying to hide problems with the computers from customers. A.I.T., an Internet services company, says it lost business as a result of the broken Dell machines.

Ironically enough, one of the apparent victims was the law firm representing Dell in the case….

[M]any customers complained that their computers were breaking at unprecedented rates and that Dell was not doing enough to fix the situation. The companies feared that their businesses could be disrupted at any time because of the machines.

For example, even Alston & Bird, the law firm representing Dell in the lawsuit, had to fight for Dell to address 1,000 questionable computers and argued that its business had been put at risk.

The Times adds that two of the Alston & Bird lawyers who represented Dell withdrew from the case this month, due to their departures from the firm.

Where did they go? The ABA Journal reports:

Victoria Davis Lockard, a partner, has joined another law firm, identified as Greenberg Traurig in a press release. William D’Antignac has taken an in-house counsel position, according to documents filed in the case. Dell’s lawyers are asking the court to push back the October trial date to December.

For more details about the discovery dispute, check out AIT’s motion for sanctions, filed by the class-action law firm of Chitwood Harley Harnes. It struck me as persuasive and not overly whiny, unlike many such motions.

(But I merely skimmed it. All the references to Bates-stamped documents, “custodians,” and complaints about inadequate document productions gave me bad flashbacks to my law firm days.)

Dell Accused of Concealing Evidence in PC Suit [New York Times]
Dell Disputes Claim It Hid E-Mail Evidence in Suit Claiming Faulty Computers [ABA Journal]
Advanced Internet Technologies Inc. v. Dell Inc.: Motion for Sanctions [E.D.N.C. via ABA Journal]

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