Judge orders defunct North Dakota photo business to preserve evidence
Order notes consumer claims against Glasser Images will likely exceed any remaining business assets
BISMARCK — A judge has ordered Glasser Images and its owner, Jack Glasser, to take any and all steps necessary to preserve evidence relevant to the defunct business, particularly websites.
The order by Burleigh County District Court Judge David Reich was prompted by an application for an emergency order by the North Dakota Attorney General's Office in late October, which stated that attorneys for the Bismarck-based company had informed the state that it was possible websites connected to the business could be lost due to the company's inability to pay.
Glasser Images abruptly closed its doors in early October, prompting an outcry from couples that had paid the company to provide photographs and videos of their weddings.
Tim O'Keeffe, a Fargo attorney representing Glasser Images, announced shortly after the closing of the business that the company was working to get wedding photographs and other images to the couples who paid for them.
O'Keeffe's law firm later announced that couples who had their weddings shot by Glasser Images will be able to see their photos online and download all of their photos free for one year.
The statement by O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Attorneys of Fargo also provided information from ShootProof, a Georgia company that describes itself as "an all-in-one photography platform," that has agreed to help former clients of Glasser Images.
The statement from ShootProof said the company was working with Glasser Images "to assess the scope of the project and will make every effort to deliver images to families before the end of the year, though some may take longer."
ShootProof's website contains more information pertaining to plans to help former clients of Glasser Images, which can be found at galleriesforgood.shootproof.com/hc/en-us/categories/4411631933079-Glasser-Images-Closure.
Meanwhile, Glasser Images is the subject of an investigation by the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division of the North Dakota Attorney General's Office, which received more than 500 complaints regarding the company.
Online court records show Glasser Images or Jack Glasser are defendants in at least seven active small claims cases in North Dakota.
Glasser Images is also named as a defendant in an eviction.
As part of its consumer protection investigation of Glasser Images, the attorney general's office asked the court to require the company to preserve relevant evidence pertaining to its business practices after lawyers for the company told the state in an email that Glasser Images pages on the websites "weddingwire.com" and "theknot.com" could be deactivated due to nonpayment.
In its application for an emergency order requiring Glasser Images to preserve evidence, the attorney general's office maintained that the company did not provide satisfactory answers to questions the state had regarding whether or not websites used by the company would be preserved.
In his order, Reich acknowledged that concern, noting that although the attorney general's office attempted to get assurances from Glasser Images that it would protect its connection to websites, "no such assurance was provided."
Reich said he granted the state's application for an emergency order based on affidavits and exhibits submitted, including assertions that certain email files appear to be missing and that potentially relevant information in the control of third-party internet vendors could be lost if access to their websites is not maintained.
The state's application also requested reimbursement of attorneys' fees of $1,860, but Reich noted he was reserving a decision on that question.
"The brief submitted in support of the application indicates that numerous consumers paid money to the respondents for services and products which were not provided," Reich wrote.
"It appears likely, based on the limited facts provided to the court at this time, that the value of the consumer claims will exceed the amount of any assets the respondents may have to satisfy those claims," Reich said, adding that the state's request for attorney fees can be decided later, when more information regarding Glasser Images' ability to pay any pending claims is known.
One of the small claims cases pending against Glasser Images is for $4,158.
The couple who filed the claim stated in court documents that Glasser Images was paid that amount in July to document their October wedding, which took place after the company closed its doors.