A judge has ordered Glasser Images to preserve its websites as the North Dakota Attorney General's Office investigates the abrupt closure of the Bismarck photography studio last month.
The business, meanwhile, is facing a possible eviction from its location in downtown Bismarck. It owes its landlord $25,000 in rent and late fees accrued since September, according to court documents.
South Central District Judge David Reich issued the order concerning the websites Thursday after a hearing last week in which Glasser's attorney said the studio would preserve all evidence "to the best of our ability" and the state's decision to seek a court order was premature.
The attorney general's office argued that it had previously tried but failed to secure adequate assurance from Glasser's lawyers that its websites would be maintained.
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The photo studio announced it would be unable to refund clients when it closed, leaving many engaged couples who had booked its services for their weddings out thousands of dollars. The attorney general's office is investigating to determine if fraud occurred.
The website dispute arose last month when lawyers for the photo studio and owner Jack Glasser emailed the attorney general's office to let officials know that the company's profiles on the websites WeddingWire and The Knot were at risk of being deactivated due to the company's inability to keep paying for the services. Emails between Jack Glasser and the billing department for the sites indicate that Glasser had an overdue balance of $1,700.
The state had issued a subpoena request ordering Glasser to turn over numerous documents related to the business and its closure, including information pertaining to its websites. The studio's own standalone website disappeared from public view shortly after the company announced its closure. Its social media profiles are no longer viewable, either. The attorney general's office also told Reich that some emails expected to be in the inbox of a former Glasser worker had disappeared.
"Based upon the affidavits and exhibits submitted, including the 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 web sites is not maintained, the court Grants the State's application," Reich wrote in his order.
Glasser's legal team has said the vendors are aware of the subpoenas and have indicated they plan to maintain the studio's profiles.
The attorney general's office is slated to question Jack Glasser at a hearing next week. The event is not open to the public.
In a separate legal matter, Glasser has received a notice of default and eviction from the business's landlord, Gulch Holdings II.
Court records show that Jack Glasser has signed a document acknowledging the overdue rental bills.
Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or email@example.com.