Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (Zubulake IV)

220 F.R.D. 212 (2003)

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Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (Zubulake IV)

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
220 F.R.D. 212 (2003)

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Facts

Laura Zubulake (plaintiff) sued UBS Warburg LLC (defendant) in federal district court for gender discrimination. Shortly after Zubulake’s initial complaint, UBS orally instructed its employees to retain all documents relevant to the dispute. Zubulake claimed that her allegations could be proven by email correspondence sent among UBS employees. Some of the emails had been deleted from UBS’s system and existed only on backup tapes. These deleted emails included ones sent after UBS had ordered the document retention. The judge ordered the parties to share the costs of restoring the appropriate UBS backup tapes. However, several backup tapes from the targeted time period were also missing. Zubulake moved for sanctions against UBS for failure to preserve the missing tapes and the emails contained on those tapes. Among other sanctions, Zubulake requested that the court give the jury an adverse-inference instruction, telling the jury it could infer that the missing tapes were unfavorable to UBS.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Scheindlin, J.)

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