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Google not preserving chats in Epic case merits sanctions, judge says

A Google signal is pictured throughout the firm’s presentation of an in depth funding plan for Germany exterior the Google workplace in Berlin, Germany, August 31, 2021.

Annegret Hilse | Reuters

Google ought to be sanctioned for failing to protect chat messages between workers associated to an antitrust case introduced by Epic Video games, a federal decide in California dominated on Tuesday.

The corporate “adopted a ‘do not ask, do not inform’ coverage for maintaining messages, on the expense of its preservation duties,” the decide stated within the submitting.

The decide didn’t but decide what sanctions Google ought to face, writing that, “the Court docket wish to see the state of play of the proof on the finish of reality discovery. At the moment, plaintiffs might be higher positioned to inform the Court docket what may need been misplaced within the Chat communications.”

Google faces related allegations about destroying potential proof by the Division of Justice in its antitrust litigation in opposition to the corporate. A Google spokesperson stated on the time of the DOJ’s submitting that it disagrees with the DOJ’s claims.

The newest submitting included a string of messages between Google executives debating whether or not they wanted to maintain chat historical past on points which may relate to the litigation.

Epic alleged that Google did not retain chat messages between workers that it ought to have preserved whereas beneath a litigation maintain. Google allegedly left it to workers to find out when to activate and off their chat historical past when discussing issues related to the authorized proceedings. Epic stated Google ought to have ensured these messages had been preserved by default. Reveals offered by Epic appear to point out that Google workers noticed chats as a much less formal method to talk.

The decide, James Donato, made clear the case “won’t be selected the idea of misplaced Chat communications,” however stated deciding on the correct non-monetary sanction requires extra proceedings.

Donato ordered Google to cowl affordable attorneys charges associated to the movement over the evidentiary challenge.

“Our groups have rigorously labored, for years, to answer Epic and the state AGs’ discovery
requests and now we have produced over three million paperwork, together with 1000’s of chats,” a Google spokesperson stated in an emailed assertion.

Epic didn’t present a press release for this story.

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