Email Scandals, Screw-Ups, Technology

Why Gmail Should Add A ‘I Didn’t Mean to Send That’ Emergency Recall Button

Are you kidding me?

Have you ever emailed a friend to tell him how pissed off you are at another friend — only to realize after the fact you accidentally emailed the friend you were trying to gossip about instead? Or have you gone on a bad date and texted the girl instead of your buddy about lame she is?

A little humiliating right?

What about accidentally emailing your litigation opponent a confidential mediation statement? It’s an express train to a crummy afternoon….

IT-Lex brings us the story of a annoying email “d’oh” snafu from Florida:

The assistant to petitioner’s counsel thereafter realized that the initial e-mail to [opposing counsel] did not mention that a hard copy also had been sent [of a document]. She therefore sent a follow up e-mail, including the same text contained in the initial email, and adding the statement, “I have also mailed you a hard copy today.” Unfortunately, while the assistant intended to reattach the electronic copy of the motion for summary judgment to the follow up e-mail, she inadvertently attached a confidential mediation statement instead.

How embarrassing for you.

The blunder in Moriber v. Dreiling led to a good, befuddling round of telephone, lawyer-style. One attorney who saw the note figured it was sent on purpose, and even gave some edits. Eventually the sender realized her screw-up and asked everyone to promptly delete the files, which they did.

But the misadventures didn’t end there. Since no one was supposed to see it except the mediator, the plaintiff filed a motion to disqualify, because “the recipients shouldn’t have read the statement, and by reading the statement they gained an unfair advantage in the litigation.” Moreover, someone pointed out in court that the judge shouldn’t even look at it, because it could lead him to get disqualified also. So they appointed a special master to check the damn thing out for explosives, poison, hanging chads, whatever.

Finally, after singing The Never-ending Song in unison under a full moon for the requisite 45 minutes and offering up a burnt sacrifice of an old Macintosh, they realized the document wasn’t really that big a deal. IT-Lex explains:

[The special master] conducted a hearing and determined that there wasn’t anything in the mediation statement that could give an unfair advantage (making any disqualification unneccesary). The trial court reviewed the special master’s recommendation, and denied the motion to disqualify– and the inevitable appeal followed. The appellate decision is a good read on the issues, but the appellate court agreed that disqualification was not necessary.

The lesson here? PROOFREAD YOU EMAIL. And its attachments.

UPDATE (8/27/2012): With respect to the title of this post, a reader points out that Gmail actually does offer a tool resembling an “emergency recall button.”

Another “Whoops! I can’t believe I hit send!” [IT-Lex]
Moriber v. Dreiling [District Court of Appeals, State of Florida]

(hidden for your protection)

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