United Med. Supply Co., Inc. v. United States, 73 Fed. Cl. 35 (2006)
In this decision, the court issued a Document Preservation Order in light of defense counsel’s reports that several boxes of documents had been inadvertently destroyed during the pendency of the case. The court had ordered the parties to brief the issue of spoliation, and to file a joint status report proposing a document preservation order and a revised discovery schedule.
The court determined that a preservation order was appropriate, using the standard articulated in Pueblo of Laguna v. United States, 60 Fed. Cl. 133 (2004). There, the court held that it had the power to preserve evidence and issue orders in furtherance thereof under its inherent authority. It rejected the notion that the standards for the issuance of a preliminary injunction (including showing a likelihood of success on the merits) must be met before a preservation order may issue. Instead, the court found that one seeking a preservation order must show (1) that it is necessary, and (2) that it is not unduly burdensome. Id. at 138. To meet the first prong, “the proponent ordinarily must show that absent a court order, there is significant risk that relevant evidence will be lost or destroyed – a burden often met by demonstrating that the opposing party has lost or destroyed evidence in the past or has inadequate retention procedures in place.” Id. As to the latter prong, “the proponent must show that the particular steps to be adopted will be effective, but not overbroad.”