Bad Faith Spoliation of Audio Data Results in Adverse Inference Instruction
May 20, 2015
Novick v. AXA Network, LLC, 2014 WL 5364100 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2014)
In this contract dispute case, the plaintiff made a motion for sanctions under Rule 37(b)(2) requesting the court strike the defendants’ answer and counterclaims, allow a negative spoliation inference against the defendants and order a monetary fine due to the plaintiff’s “repeated attempts to obtain the at-issue discovery and defendants’ failure to preserve the same.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants had significantly delayed the discovery process by providing largely irrelevant emails, by withholding emails that were unfavorable to the defendants, by failing to preserve relevant emails and by failing to preserve 10 weeks of audio recordings that constituted “approximately one-third of the entire time period ordered.” The court found that “the defendants acted in bad faith respecting their production of e-mail messages, employed delay tactics, caused substantial costs to be incurred by the plaintiff and wasted the [c]ourt’s time.” The court also found that the defendants had acted in bad faith regarding the missing audio recordings. Thus, the court imposed an adverse inference jury instruction concerning the audio recordings, awarded the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and ordered that certain depositions be retaken at the defendants’ expense.