In a trademark infringement case involving two restaurants, Katiroll Company, Inc. v. Kati Roll and Platters, Inc. et al., Plaintiff sought a spoliation inference, alleging various discovery abuses involving several types of evidence including social media. Specifically, Plaintiff requested sanctions for the individual Defendant’s failure to preserve his Facebook pages in two different ways. Recognizing that Facebook users change their pages frequently given the nature of the media at issue, Chief Judge Brown of the District of New Jersey crafted a creative remedy, which was based in large part on the level of prejudice to Plaintiff.
Tagged: Adverse Inference
Two recent decisions in the same case illustrate that, when it comes to imposing sanctions for spoliation of evidence, what matters is not simply whether you’ve intentionally deleted relevant evidence, but how you go about deleting it, and what the record reflects about your intentions. Although both the plaintiff and the defendant in E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09cv58, demonstrated that the other intentionally destroyed relevant evidence, as is detailed below, the Court sanctioned only defendant Kolon Industries, Inc. (“Kolon”) based on its manifest bad faith (read the decision here). As is discussed in an earlier post on Gibbons’ E-Discovery Law Alert (which you can read here), plaintiff E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) escaped a similar fate based on its demonstrable good faith. In short, this case teaches that the intentional deletion of relevant evidence does not per se lead to sanctions. Rather, the parties’ conduct — or misconduct, as the case may be — must be judged contextually.
Motion for Sanctions Denied Due to DuPont’s Reasonable, Professional Efforts to Implement and Update Litigation Hold Notices
On April 27, 2011, the Court denied Defendant Kolon Industries, Inc.’s (“Kolon”) motion for sanctions against E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) for alleged spoliation of four employees’ e-mail accounts and documents in litigation regarding trade secret misappropriation, theft of confidential information and other related business torts. E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09cv58, 2011 U.S. Dist. (E.D. Va. Apr. 27, 2011). In essence, the Court concluded there was no spoliation because DuPont’s efforts to implement and update litigation hold notices – as well as the company’s commitment to its electronic discovery obligations – were reasonable.
Orbit One: Inadequate ESI Preservation Does Not Merit Sanctions Absent Evidence That Relevant Information Has Been Destroyed
Orbit One Communications, Inc. v. Numerex Corp., 2010 WL 4615547 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2010) represents a dichotomy in jurisprudence on ESI preservation efforts and the imposition of automatic sanctions. In Orbit One, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV found that regardless of how inadequate a litigant’s preservation efforts may be, sanctions are not appropriate without proof that “information of significance” has been lost. The court determined that the threshold determination must be “whether any material that has been destroyed was likely relevant even for purposes of discovery.” In so holding, the court discussed and diverged from Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s decision in Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, LLC, which earlier held that sanctions may be warranted for inadequate preservation efforts even if no relevant evidence is lost. 685 F. Supp.2d 456, 465 (S.D.N.Y. 2010).