Apr 23, 2017
State of California to reimburse $1 million to business in lawsuit where evidence was destroyed and erased
The defendant in the case is the company, "formerly known as Greka Oil & Gas Inc., and now known as HVI Cat Canyon Inc. (HVI-CC)"
Reviewing Zarefsky’s recommendations, U.S. District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin also reportedly reprimanded the state, and he ruled that the state would not be able to call on four tainted witnesses. “[T]he court cannot downplay, as the state seems to do, the inaccurate statements its counsel made to HVI-CC’s counsel regarding the issuance of a litigation hold,” he said, according to the News-Press. He also ordered the state to reimburse nearly $1 million to the defendant’s lawyers for depositions involving 16 witnesses.
The state and federal governments filed a joint action against the company in 2011. But the company claimed that the amount of oil it is accused of spilling is “exponentially” greater than the amount it actually produced. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was responsible for collecting the evidence against the company. But it delayed placing a “litigation hold” on information it had compiled, and as a result, significant evidence was erased or destroyed. Worse, the state government told the courts repeatedly that it had put in place a “litigation hold” to preserve the evidence, when in fact it had not done so.
Breitbart link includes references to an article by the Santa Barbara Press.