Attempted Spoliation Translates Into Fee-Shifting
Late on New Year’s Eve 2013, Philip Shawe broke into the office of his business partner, Elizabeth Elting, removed her hard drive, instructed an employee to image the hard drive, and then returned the hard drive to Elting’s office after concealing any evidence that it had been taken. In the following days and months, Shawe used the hard drive image to gain access to Elting’s electronic files and emails, including 19,000 Gmail messages. Among those Gmail messages were approximately 12,000 privileged communications between Elting and her attorneys (In re Shawe & Elting, No. CV 10449-CB, 4-6 (Del. Ch. 2016)). Shawe also hired an individual to sneak into Elting’s office and periodically photograph the contents of her files and personal belongings. Later, Shawe destroyed his own iPhone, repeatedly deleted material from his laptop, and lied in numerous sworn documents and testimony about his actions.