East County News Service
March 29, 2023 (Sacramento) -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a multistate coalition, secured a court order sanctioning Google for its destruction of evidence in the coalition’s lawsuit against the company filed in 2021.
The lawsuit alleges Google violated antitrust laws by monopolizing the Android application market. The court today found that by failing to save chat messages, Google intended to subvert the discovery process, and that Google’s chat evidence was lost with the intent to prevent its use in litigation and with the intent to deprive California of the evidence.
U.S. District Court Judge James Donato found, “Overall, the record demonstrates that Google employees who received a litigation hold in this case were unable or unwilling to follow the Chat preservation instructions, and sometimes disregarded the instructions altogether.”
Attorney General Bonta stated, “Let this send a strong message: California will not let companies hide from accountability when they break the law. Google has now not only violated the trust of Android phone customers by limiting consumer choice and raking in outrageous commissions, but has also violated the discovery process in this case.”
He adds, “This egregious behavior demonstrates the lengths that Google will go to maintain its anticompetitive stronghold on the marketplace. A more competitive app marketplace could open innovation, leading to more choice, better payment processing, improved customer service, and enhanced data security. We look forward to continuing to fight for this fair marketplace in court.”
Attorney General Bonta first alerted the court of Google’s attempts to subvert discovery in late 2022 and has subsequently updated the court with additional examples of Google’s conduct.
Today’s decision, which requires Google to pay the state’s attorneys’ fees, ruled that “It is clear in the record that relevant, substantive business communications were made on Chat that plaintiffs will never see, to the potential detriment of their case.”
A copy of the decision can be found here.