Plaintiff’s Disposal of “Crashed” Home Computer Warrants Adverse Inference Instruction
Teague v. Target Corp., 2007 WL 1041191 (W.D.N.C. Apr. 4, 2007)
In this employment litigation, defendant had asserted as an affirmative defense plaintiff’s failure to mitigate her damages. During discovery, it was revealed that plaintiff owned a home computer from December 1995 until August 2004, which plaintiff had used to conduct her entire on-line job search after leaving defendant’s employ, including researching job opportunities on the Internet, submitting on-line employment applications, and exchanging emails with prospective employers. Plaintiff also used the computer to send and receive emails regarding her termination and her claims of gender discrimination. The computer was discarded approximately one year after plaintiff had retained regarding her prospective claims and after she filed her charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Plaintiff claimed that she discarded the computer because it "crashed.” Plaintiff admitted that she never took the computer to any type of computer professional to see if it could be repaired.