Sanctions Denied when Data Destroyed Absent Bad Faith or Showing of Prejudice

N.Y. Nat’l Org. for Women v. Cuomo, 1998 WL 395320 (S.D.N.Y. July 14, 1998)

Potentially relevant material was lost when, at the end of the Cuomo administration, computer databases containing letters and reports sent to the governor, outgoing letters, internal memoranda, monthly summary reports and electronic mail, along with information saved by individual employees on personal computers, were deleted.

The court criticized defense counsel for treating its duty to preserve evidence cavalierly, but imposed no sanctions because there was no bad faith and no prejudice shown: “In essence, [plaintiffs] argue that the defendants’ conduct deprived them of a pond in which they would like to have gone on a fishing expedition. That is not a showing of prejudice.” 1998 WL 395320, at *2-3.

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