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State Supreme Court Warns Businesses On Automatic Deletion of Records

Companies too quick to purge records could face penalties for destroying evidence.


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A recent ruling by the Texas Supreme Court means companies will likely need to spend more to preserve their records in order to avoid potential legal penalties.

Former pro-football player Jerry Aldridge slipped and hurt his back in a Brookshire Brothers grocery store, three hours north of Houston. Aldridge’s attorney requested two hours of footage from store security cameras, but the store had saved only eight minutes. The judge allowed jurors to decide whether the company should be held liable for destroying evidence. The jury awarded Aldridge a million dollars in damages.

The high court overturned the jury verdict, but it said businesses could be held liable for not preserving records.

“Businesses are going to need to look at their policies regarding automatic deletion or destruction of records,” says Kent Sullivan, a partner with Sutherland, “because any policy that allows for the destruction of records that might be relevant to some claim or litigation could be considered a willful destruction of evidence and give rise to court sanctions.”

The case was sent back to a lower court for retrial.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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