Most of our audiences know what metadata is these days – and how to scrub it. It doesn't make the news very often, but a February 7th story from the ABA Journal caught my eye.
On February 6th, federal jurors awarded nearly $8 million to a general counsel who says he was fired because he blew the whistle on his company's potential violation of a foreign bribery law.
The former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Sanford "Sandy" Wadler, was awarded $2.9 million in back pay and stock compensation and $5 million in punitive damages, according to the Recorder (sub. req.). Wadler had sought $27 million in punitive damages.
Jurors deliberated for less than three hours. The award will increase to $10.8 million because the Dodd-Frank Act authorizes the doubling of back pay for whistleblower retaliation.
Bio-Rad said Wadler was fired in June 2013 because of erratic work and loud outbursts. Wadler's lawyers argued that there was no documentation of such behavior, and his 2012 performance review was mostly positive.
Another job review, dated April 2013, was actually created in July, a month after Wadler was fired, according to Wadler's lead lawyer, James Wagstaffe. His proof was metadata showing the creation date. Wagstaffe said the metadata evidence helped to tip the scale in Wadler's favor.
Well, I guess it would. Looks like an attempt to manufacture evidence after the fact, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure that's what the jurors concluded. And with all that erratic work and "loud outbursts", one would expect to see some documentation of that. As we always note when we lecture, don't just look for what's there. Look for what should be there and is missing.
Though metadata is often not important in a case, here is a prime example of when it really can make a difference.
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Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology