Tagged: Adverse Inference

Signs of Life?  – Judge Francis Opines that “Inherent Authority” to Sanction Spoliation Related Conduct Survives Amended Rule 37(e) 0

Signs of Life? – Judge Francis Opines that “Inherent Authority” to Sanction Spoliation Related Conduct Survives Amended Rule 37(e)

In perhaps the first published decision since the amended Federal Rules took effect on December 6, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV, a preeminent judicial e-discovery authority, relied upon amended Rule 37(e) and, somewhat controversially, his inherent authority, to sanction a litigant for evidence tampering and spoliation. The opinion is significant, not solely because it invokes the newly-minted rule, but because it interprets amended Rule 37(e) as not foreclosing the court’s inherent authority as a viable alternative to sanction spoliation-related conduct that may not strictly satisfy the new Rule’s elements.

N.Y. Court Grants Spoliation Sanctions for Destruction of Documents Decades Ago 0

N.Y. Court Grants Spoliation Sanctions for Destruction of Documents Decades Ago

In Warren v. Amchem Products, Inc., Justice Peter Moulton sanctioned defendant J-M Manufacturing Company for destroying documents in 1990 and 1997 – 24 years and 17 years, respectively, before the Warren Estate filed suit against asbestos manufacturers in 2014. The Court granted plaintiff’s motion for spoliation sanctions and ordered that, should the case proceed to trial, the jury will be instructed that it may infer that the destroyed documents would have supported plaintiff’s claims and would not have supported J-M’s defenses.

Appellate Division Says Adverse Inference Inappropriate Where Records Were Ultimately Produced 0

Appellate Division Says Adverse Inference Inappropriate Where Records Were Ultimately Produced

In a recent decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that a trial court’s adverse inference instruction for e-discovery misconduct was an unreasonably harsh penalty where the electronically stored information (ESI) was eventually produced. The Appellate Division’s opinion in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Viking Industrial Security, Inc. illustrates and reaffirms the principle that discovery sanctions must be just and reasonable, and proportional to the prejudice caused to an adversary, regardless of bad faith or willfulness of the misconduct.

Adverse Inference Instruction Warranted For Insurer’s Breach of Retention Policy 0

Adverse Inference Instruction Warranted For Insurer’s Breach of Retention Policy

It should come as no surprise that litigants continue to ignore such basic discovery obligations as the duty to preserve potentially relevant documents once litigation is reasonably anticipated. A recent case out of the Northern District of New York exemplifies the importance of patience in establishing a record of discovery abuses, including data deletion, before seeking sanctions to address such situations.

Takeda Part One: Prelude To Disaster? — Takeda Can’t Narrow Its Broadly-Written Litigation Hold 0

Takeda Part One: Prelude To Disaster? — Takeda Can’t Narrow Its Broadly-Written Litigation Hold

An opinion from Judge Rebecca Doherty in In re Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 11-2299, provides valuable lessons on the consequences of drafting overly-broad litigation hold notices, as well as the importance of providing evidence from knowledgeable witnesses in defense of document retention procedures.

Negligent Spoliation May Result in Sanctions Under New York Law 0

Negligent Spoliation May Result in Sanctions Under New York Law

Recently, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department considered whether to adopt and apply the Zubulake standard for the spoliation of electronically-stored information (“ESI”) to a claim for spoliation of an audiotape recording or whether existing New York spoliation doctrine was sufficient. Strong v. City of New York involved a June 30, 2009, accident in which an NYPD vehicle collided with another vehicle, jumped the sidewalk curb and struck five pedestrians, including plaintiff, Kevin Strong. Within 30 days of the accident, three plaintiffs commenced personal injury actions and these were consolidated for trial. On September 21, 2009, less than 90 days after the accident, the City joined issue and interposed the “emergency operation” defense, claiming the police officer’s vehicle was an authorized emergency vehicle engaged in an emergency operation at the time of the accident and, therefore, the City could only be held liable if the officer had acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Federal Judge in New Jersey Issues Adverse Inference Instruction Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Preserve Facebook Information in Personal Injury Action 0

Federal Judge in New Jersey Issues Adverse Inference Instruction Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Preserve Facebook Information in Personal Injury Action

Recently, a federal judge in New Jersey imposed sanctions for a personal injury plaintiff’s failure to preserve his Facebook account. The Court concluded that it was “beyond dispute that Plaintiff had a duty to preserve his Facebook account,” and granted the defendant’s motion for an adverse inference instruction. The plaintiff allegedly suffered serious injuries at work, which purportedly left him permanently disabled, unable to work, and limited in his “physical and social activities.” The defendants sought the plaintiff’s Facebook information, alleging it related to damages, but the plaintiff declined to provide an authorization form for Facebook. During a settlement conference, the Magistrate Judge ordered the plaintiff to execute the appropriate form, and the plaintiff agreed to change his account password to allow defense counsel to access his Facebook page. Defense counsel then accessed his account and printed portions of the plaintiff’s Facebook page.

How a Case Can Crash and Burn: Why a Litigant Should Not Set Afire a Computer After It Crashes (Preservation 101) 0

How a Case Can Crash and Burn: Why a Litigant Should Not Set Afire a Computer After It Crashes (Preservation 101)

In Evans v. Mobile County Health Department, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8530 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 24, 2012) , a magistrate judge sitting in the Southern District of Alabama (Southern Division) was recently faced with the question of whether plaintiff’s intentional burning of a personal computer, which contained discoverable ESI, was worthy of an imposition of sanctions.The defendant, Mobile County Health Department, filed motions to compel discovery and to impose sanctions stemming from plaintiff’s alleged spoliation of critical information and repeated failures to produce discoverable documents and ESI. Based upon the facts and arguments presented to the magistrate, most notably plaintiff Evans’ admission that she destroyed and replaced her personal computer, the Court granted defendant’s motions.

New York’s Appellate Courts Surface on Litigation Hold – First Department Confirms Reasonable Anticipation of Litigation Requires Implementation of Litigation Hold 0

New York’s Appellate Courts Surface on Litigation Hold – First Department Confirms Reasonable Anticipation of Litigation Requires Implementation of Litigation Hold

New York’s First Department Appellate Division is the first New York state appellate court to expressly adopt the “reasonable anticipation trigger” articulated in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 220 FRD 212 (S.D.N.Y. 2003): “Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a ‘litigation hold’ to ensure the preservation of relevant documents.” Id. at 218. On January 31, 2012, the First Department affirmed the November 9, 2010 Order of the Honorable Richard B. Lowe III which awarded an adverse inference sanction to plaintiff, Voom HD Holdings LLC (“Voom”) against defendant EchoStar Satellite, L.L.C. (“EchoStar”). Voom H.D. Holdings LLC v. EchoStar Satellite LLC, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 00658 (1st Dep’t 2012). The First Department found the Zubulake standard to be “harmonious” with existing New York precedent in the traditional discovery context and “provides litigants with sufficient certainty as to the nature of their obligations in the electronic discovery context and when those obligations are triggered.”