Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for
the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No.
C662166 Honorable Todd W. Hernandez, Judge Presiding
N. Aquiluz Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for
Plaintiffs/Appellants Matthew Morris and Complete
Construction Contractors, L.L.C.
Ziegler Shelby Sarah K. Lunn Stephanie L. Willis Baton Rouge,
Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/Appellees Trust
Technologies, LLC and Jeff Hanson
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM,
appeal, the plaintiffs contend that the trial court abused
its discretion and erred in failing to grant them a
preliminary injunction that would enjoin the defendants from
depriving the plaintiffs of full access to and use of certain
computer information. For the reasons that follow, we affirm
the judgment of the trial court.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Morris is the sole owner and managing member of Complete
Construction Contractors, LLC (CCC), a Louisiana residential
and commercial construction company. On February 7, 2017, a
warrant for the search and seizure of property located at the
Baton Rouge office of CCC was issued for "[c]ompany
[owned] computers, cellular phones, digital storage devices,
customer ... files and billing invoices, and any information
that would identify past or present
employees." Jeff Hanson, the owner of Trust
Technologies, LLC, d/b/a Trust IT, had been providing
computer support and services to CCC since 2014. At the time
of the search, Mr. Hanson was contacted by CCC for
assistance, and he went to CCC's office. Law enforcement
personnel advised Mr. Hanson to preserve all existing
computer data in his possession.
August 12, 2017, after the issuance of the search warrant and
the arrest of Mr. Morris, Mr. Hanson sent a letter by email
to Mr. Morris and CCC giving notice that Trust IT would no
longer be providing technical services to CCC as of September
15, 2017. Mr. Hanson further stated that he wanted to give
CCC as much notice as possible so it could secure a new IT
provider and that Trust IT would provide assistance for the
September 13, 2017, Mr. Hanson sent an email to Mr. Morris
and Ashley Morris, Mr. Morris's wife, wherein Mr. Hanson
gave an update of various matters, including ShareSync data.
With regard to the ShareSync data, Mr. Hanson stated:
I will not be able to transfer the account to Matt directly.
On the day of the original raid in February, law enforcement
directed me to ensure that any data we provided for CCC was
protected and to not delete any of that data. In light of my
conversations with Matt yesterday, I contacted law
enforcement to confirm it was acceptable to transfer the
ShareSync account from Trust IT to Matt. They instructed me
not to do so and retain custodianship of the account. As a
result, we will continue as originally planned and provide
the ShareSync data on a hard drive.
following day, Mr. Hanson sent another email to Mr. and Mrs.
Morris again advising them of the termination of services to
CCC on September 15, 2017. Mr. Hanson advised Mr. Morris that
he was not jeopardizing Mr. Morris's litigation in any
way through the termination of services, stated that the data
to be delivered to the plaintiffs could be accessed by them,
and again recommended that they immediately secure the
services of a new IT company. With respect to Mr.
Morris's requests for additional IT services, Mr. Hanson
agreed to keep the ShareSync account open until October 15,
2017. On September 21, 2017, Mr. Hanson gave Mrs. Morris an
external USB hard drive containing data for
The receipt for the hard drive also contained a list of its
contents with a screenshot of the files.
Hanson's deposition was taken on October 3, 2017. He
testified that he did not have access or control to many of
CCC's accounts, including RackSpace, QuickBooks,
LastPass, Xactimate, BuilderTrend, NexVortexIP, GoDaddy,
iPhones, iPads, iCIoud, and Wunderlist. He also testified
regarding the ShareSync account, stating that it is a
cloud-based file storage and sharing system. Mr. Hanson
testified that he had custodial access to the ShareSync
account, but that Mr. Morris had access to the account and
could see what files were deleted and restore them. Mr.
Hanson stated that he, however, was the only person who could
permanently delete a file. Mr. Hanson agreed to maintain the
ShareSync account, provided that Mr. Morris and CCC pay the
cost of keeping it open for one year in advance.
thereafter, on October 5, 2017, Mr. Morris and CCC filed a
Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction against Trust Technologies, LLC and Mr. Hanson,
asserting that if Mr. Hanson and Trust IT shut down the
various accounts, metadata evidence would be permanently
lost, which would result in the spoliation of evidence needed
to defend against allegations in civil and criminal
proceedings against Mr. Morris. The plaintiffs asserted that Mr.
Hanson and Trust IT refused to preserve the data, and they
prayed for a temporary restraining order and, after due
proceedings, a preliminary mandatory injunction to prevent
irreparable harm. The trial court issued a temporary
restraining order and set the matter for hearing.
hearing on the petition was held on November 27, 2017 and
November 30, 2017, after which the trial court took the
matter under advisement. Post-trial memoranda were filed to
try to narrow the issues before the court, and on January 12,
2018, the trial court denied the petition for a preliminary
injunction and vacated the temporary restraining order. ...