Appellate Court Affirms in Part $7.4 Million Verdict Based Partially on Computer Forensics Investigation
In Lyman et. al. v. Cellchem International, LLC, Case No. A-15-A-1282, the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed in part and reversed in part a $7.4 million verdict in favor of Cellchem International. Plaintiff sued Defendants for computer trespass, computer theft, breach of fiduciary duty, and tortious interference with business relations. A jury awarded over $7 million to Plaintiff, and Defendants appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying their motion for a new trial and in admitting certain exhibits but excluding others.
The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment based on computer trespass and computer theft. The trial court was presented with evidence from a computer forensics specialist, who had examined four computers belonging to the individual defendants, as well as two thumb drives. The specialist discovered that a third thumb drive not produced by Defendants had been inserted into one of the computers and certain information had been copied onto it. He found that Plaintiffs’ Quickbooks files had been copied onto the thumb drives and also onto one of the computers, where the information was used to create files for the corporate defendant. Based on this evidence, the appellate court concluded that the trial court had enough evidence to support the verdict.
Computer forensic imaging and review is an excellent tool for plaintiffs concerned about spoliation of evidence or for plaintiffs whose case rests upon the condition and/or location of electronic data. A computer forensic specialist can determine when records were copied, deleted, altered, moved, or wiped, and can often tell when someone has attempted to cover their tracks.