Key Insight: Trial court found Plaintiff committed spoliation when a computer containing key documents was destroyed. Court imposed sanctions of precluding evidence derived from the computer from being presented at trial and ordered Plaintiff to pay Defendant?s attorney fees and costs. Upon review, Court upheld the spoliation ruling but imposed a mandatory adverse inference instead of the preclusion order. Court agreed that Plaintiff had a duty to preserve, was culpable in the destruction of the evidence, and the data that was destroyed was relevant to the Defendant?s claims. The court further elaborated that Plaintiff?s duty to preserve did not end when the computer allegedly crashed, and that Plaintiff should have made reasonable efforts to recover the data it contained. Saying that the spoliation prejudiced the defendant in a ?severe way? that can only be corrected by a ?substantial sanction,? the Court found that a mandatory adverse inference was the best way to repair the damage to Defendant without being a ?harsh measure given the extent of Plaintiff?s reliance of the documents??
Nature of Case: Breach of Contract, Fraud
Electronic Data Involved: Contents of “crashed” laptop computer