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.