Monday, August 25, 2014

Sanctions for spoilation of evidence.

Practice point:  The Supreme Court has broad discretion in determining what, if any, sanction should be imposed for spoliation of evidence, and it may mpose a sanction even if the destruction occurred through negligence rather than wilfulness, and even if the evidence was destroyed before the spoliator became a party, provided the spoliator was on notice that the evidence might be needed for future litigation.

Here, the Appellate Division determined that the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in striking the defendant's answers and thereupon awarding the plaintiffs summary judgment on the issue of liability pursuant to CPLR 3126. The record demonstrates that the defendant disposed of the grate involved in the accident after having received a written demand from one of the infant plaintiff's attorneys that the grate be preserved for inspection by the plaintiffs and their experts. Moreover, the plaintiffs demonstrated that they were unduly prejudiced by the defendant's conduct in disposing of the grate.

Student note:  Under the common-law doctrine of spoliation, when a party negligently loses or intentionally destroys key evidence, that party may be sanctioned under CPLR 3126.

Case:  Biniachvili v. Yeshivat Shaare Torah, Inc., NY Slip 05826 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: The service requirements of a foreclosure action.