Round One: New Line Fined $125,000 in Peter Jackson Lawsuit

The LA Times reports that on 18th September 2007…

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman found that New Line may have destroyed (or failed to prevent the destruction of) documents and failed to search diligently for documents and e-mails it was required by the court to produce. Hillman recounts any number of examples where the studio's searches were not meaningful or "haphazard." He was particularly critical of how New Line treated e-mails related to the film and its accounting.

"No witness can say with any degree of certainty what individuals searched their own e-mail files or how any of those searches were conducted," the magistrate wrote. Furthermore, he wrote, "New Line did not suspend the automatic deletion of e-mails and other electronic documents as part of a litigation hold; instead, to this day, e-mails continue to be purged from every employee's in-box every thirty days."

Convinced New Line has not and will not scour its electronic records appropriately, Hillman instructed the studio to retain and pay for an outside document retrieval vendor within three weeks. He also said some New Line witnesses may face further depositions to discuss new documents that should have been produced earlier but weren't.

In related new, reports that:

When Jackson's suit was filed it did not specify the amount of damages sought, but his lawyers later told The New York Times they believed Jackson was underpaid by as much as $US100 million for all three films, which had made more than $US4 billion.

How this affects ‘The Hobbit’ is yet to be seen, but one thing at least seems certain – Bilbo’s birthday tomorrow might not be a happy one for fans who have been holding their breath for a ‘Hobbit’ announcement.

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