Archive: March 2, 2010

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Court Provides Detailed Analysis of Law of Spoliation, Orders Adverse Inference Instruction, Monetary Sanctions for Intentional Spoliation of ESI

Court Provides Detailed Analysis of Law of Spoliation, Orders Adverse Inference Instruction, Monetary Sanctions for Intentional Spoliation of ESI

Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598 (S.D. Tex. 2010)

For intentional spoliation, the court declined to order terminating sanctions but ordered an adverse inference instruction and for defendants to pay plaintiff’s attorneys fees and costs.

In this litigation arising from accusations of misappropriation of trade secrets, violation of non-compete agreements, and related claims, plaintiff accused defendants of spoliating relevant evidence, including electronically stored information (“ESI”).  The court found that defendants had indeed participated in intentional spoliation of evidence, including failing to preserve relevant ESI, manually deleting ESI, and destroying or giving away laptops containing relevant ESI, among other things.  The court nonetheless declined to grant plaintiff’s request for terminating sanctions because plaintiff was unable to show a sufficiently high degree of resulting prejudice.  Specifically, the court found that because defendants had produced a large volume of evidence despite their spoliation of other ESI, because plaintiff had obtained some of the deleted evidence from other sources, and because evidence revealed that some of the deleted records would have been favorable to defendants, the resulting prejudice was “far from irreparable” – the necessary showing to justify terminating sanctions:  “The sanction of dismissal or default judgment is appropriate only if the spoliation or destruction of evidence resulted in “irreparable prejudice” and no lesser sanction would suffice.” [Citation omitted.]

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