A federal jury returned a stunning, $919 million verdict yesterday for DuPont in a trade secret theft case. In E.I. du Pont de Nemours v. Kolon Industries, the verdict was the culmination of a two-and-a-half year battle that DuPont waged against Kolon Industries to prove that Kolon had misappropriated key aspects of its formula for Kevlar®.
The court delivered a decisive blow shortly before trial when it found that Kolon had destroyed emails and other electronically stored information linking it to the trade secret theft. The sanction for that spoliation was an instruction to the jury that Kolon executives and employees had deleted key evidence after the company’s preservation duty was triggered.
The verdict against Kolon is just the beginning of its problems. DuPont will now request over $50 million in punitive damages from Kolon, another $30 million for reimbursement of its attorney fees and a permanent injunction forbidding Kolon from using the stolen trade secrets. Not surprisingly, Kolon’s stock dropped 15% after news of the verdict reached the markets today.
The eDiscovery sanctions order and corresponding verdict make it clear that organizations should invest the time and effort to properly prepare for litigation and discovery. As we argued in our previous post on the DuPont case, having the right tools in place could have prevented much of the spoliation – and the resulting instruction to the jury – that occurred in the DuPont case.