could i sue someone who sabotaged an edit?

They'll see. I'm going to ruin their movie, making changes that are irreversible. Mwaaahaaahahahaha!

What's that? The changes I made are reversible? My devious plans foiled again! I'll get you next time, Conroy. Next tiiiiiiiiiiiime!

Just don't hire him again, dude. Problem solved.
I think you're missing that I, and a few others, are trying to tell you that it makes no sense for an editor to do this. No sense at all. What possible motivation could he have? What could he possibly gain?

I have a very difficult time believing that his efforts were nefarious in nature. It sounds like he's just a bad editor.
This goes into the "once burned, twice learned" category.

First, you do not make full payment before you have the completed work.

Second, just because you disagree with his edit choices does not mean he deliberately "sabotaged" your project, he either has a completely different vision than you do or he is a very poor editor; in either case you should have done your homework prior to hiring him.

Third, things are only irreversible if your original footage is gone from your cards and your hard drives; you should still have the original rough edit or, at worst, the original video and audio files. All you've really lost - other than the lens - is time. If you do not have back-ups of everything that is your error.

Fourth, you did not do your due diligence by checking on his work frequently.

Fifth, how specific was your contract, and was it drawn up by an entertainment attorney? If he did not fulfill or exceeded the terms of the contract you may have a shot at a breach of contract suit. But go back to point four, you should have been monitoring his work.

Incompetence and stupidity on his part, and lack of supervision on your part, are not grounds for a law suit, especially if your contract is not legally binding.

I look at the situation from the opposite side; I have to make sure that I don't get screwed by the client. I require a very detailed contract. I email the client frequently reporting on my progress, and upon completion of each stage of work upload a quick mix to an FTP site, DropBox, or something similar. The client is always welcome to sit and watch/listen to me work. If I think that the creative choices of the client are going to hurt the project I argue my position very strongly, but in the end it is the clients project and I do what the client asks - even if I disagree.
This thread is why you need bullet proof contracts with teeth as lawyers say. You need to explain everything in writing as to what people are supposed to do and what the remedies are under what circumstances that may arise.
Would a judge look at everything this guy did and agree with you? Or keeping in mind that everyone lies in court, could he make an argument that his edits were just his artistic touch -- not any intentional fraud? That's what you have to ask yourself. Take him to court if the small claims limit allows. Superior court cases are massively expensive and pointless if the dude has no money to sue for.
Steve seems to be the voice of reason here.

How do you know for sure the editor just does not know what he is doing?

Did you see a demo reel of what he has done before? Did it impress you?

Or, are you dealing with a novice?

If you are dealing with a novice, just move on.
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