Destroyed Hard Drive Becomes Focus of Hearing in Sullivan & Cromwell Suit (New York Law Journal)

Destroyed Hard Drive Becomes Focus of Hearing in Sullivan & Cromwell Suit
By Anthony Lin

The legal battle between Sullivan & Cromwell and former associate Aaron B. Charney took a dramatic turn Thursday when it emerged in court that Charney had recently destroyed a personal hard drive to which he had e-mailed firm documents.

Charney, previously a fourth-year in Sullivan & Cromwell’s mergers and acquisitions group, filed a pro se suit against the firm last month alleging partners discriminated against him because he is gay. The firm, which has denied the allegations, last week both fired Charney and sued him for allegedly stealing documents and publicly disclosing confidential information about both the firm and its clients.

It is unclear what information was on the hard drive. Alterman said in court that Charney frequently sent documents from his work e-mail to his home computer in order to work on them. But Sullivan & Cromwell has alleged in its suit that Charney misappropriated some documents to which he had no rightful access, including some internal documents he allegedly leaked to The Wall Street Journal. Those documents, which discussed means by which the firm could raise associate morale, were the subject of a Jan. 24 article.

The destruction of the hard drive raises the possibility that Charney could be found to have willfully destroyed evidence. A ruling by Fried that the ex-associate spoliated evidence could have a devastating impact on his case. (more…)