In 2000, the plaintiffs retained Haese as litigation counsel. In 2005, Andrew Tine, then an associate with Haese, noticed that billing and time entries had been altered without his knowledge. Tine informed the plaintiff of the billing discrepancies and resigned from the firm. In 2006, the plaintiff filed suit against Haese for overbilling.
The computer that stored the billing data was backed up every week and there had been no major malfunction since 2000. However, Haese never produced the underlying metadata, despite court orders, using delay tactics and claiming several excuses such as privilege, the inability to separate the metadata from other client files, and the plaintiff’s failure to timely respond to request for admissions. In addition to the numerous discovery violations, the default judge determined that there was also strong evidence, albeit circumstantial, establishing spoliation. Haese was the only attorney with the authority to alter records, and there were no evident computer malfunctions that could have deleted the metadata. Hence, sanctions were imposed.
Long Bay Management Co. v. Haese, 2015 WL 7213811 (Mass. App. Ct. Nov. 17, 2015).