Tech Company Not Solely Responsible for Client’s Lost Data

Not only a good claim example, but also yet another reason to back up your data.

A tech company representative was installing high speed internet access on a screenwriter’s laptop. In the course of the installation, some screenplays were lost. The screenwriter claimed he had contracts for the plays to be produced and sued the tech company for compensation for the lost deals. A California appellate court ruled that the plaintiff was partially responsible for his loss of the screenplays because a) he didn’t back up his data and b) he installed a bunch of large files on his laptop after he experienced the initial data loss, thereby making data recovery impossible. The jury originally awarded the plaintiff $60,000 in compensatory damages and $33,000 in punitive damages. The appellate court dismissed the punitive damages because the jury found the defendant negligent but not guilty of committing an intentional tort. Additionally, the court found no evidence of any contracts for the screenplays to be produced, so, the compensatory damages were limited to covering the plaintiff’s expenses to research and write the plays. The compensatory damages were also limited by the jury because the plaintiff contributed towards his data loss (reasons a and b above). The total award was reduced to $27,000. The defendant’s legal expenses were not revealed; however, it appears likely the costs far outstripped the damages awarded.