Courts throughout the United States have different perspectives on the actions that constitute spoliation of evidence and the situations in which these actions should be sanctioned. Furthermore, as courts examine and re-examine these concepts over time, their perspectives shift. Therefore, attorneys, e-discovery practitioners, and parties in litigation must keep in mind the distinctions among different jurisdictions’ definitions of spoliation and their standards for when, and what types, of sanctions should be applied in light of such spoliation.
In its recent decision Seattle Tunnel Partners v. Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC, __ P.3d __ (Wash. Ct. App. Mar. 27, 2023), the Washington Court of Appeals, Division 1, discusses the evolution of Washington case law on spoliation of evidence and provides clarity around the circumstances that would justify the imposition of spoliation sanctions in this jurisdiction. Interestingly, the limits identified in this opinion regarding when spoliation sanctions are available differ from those in place in the federal courts and the courts of other states.