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Archive for the ‘Magistrate Judge Christine Noland’ Category

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc.; Elements to establish need for adverse inference instruction, 5th Circuit

Posted by rjbiii on September 3, 2007

A party seeking the sanction of an adverse inference instruction based upon spoliation of evidence must establish these elements:

  • The party in control of the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time it was destroyed;
  • The records were destroyed with a “culpable state of mind;”
  • The destroyed evidence was “relevant” to the party’s claim or defense such that a reasonable trier of fact could find that it would support that claim or defense.

Additionally, the Fifth Circuit only permits an adverse inference sanction against a destroyer of evidence upon a showing of “bad faith” or “bad conduct.”
For the spoliator to have a culpable state of mind, it must act with fraudulent intent and a desire to suppress the truth. Such a state of mind is not present where the destruction is a matter of routine or where employees have simply deleted emails b/c they had no legitimate business reason. When evidence is destroyed in bad faith, that fact alone is sufficient to demonstrate relevance. However, when the destruction is negligent, relevance must be proven by the party seeking sanctions. Some jurisdictions outside of the 5th Cir. merely require a “gross negligence standard, rather than the “bad faith” standard. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La).

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Posted in 5th Circuit, Adverse Inference, Case Blurbs, Duty to Preserve, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc.; Appropriate situations for issuance of an Adverse Inference Instruction

Posted by rjbiii on September 3, 2007

Typically, the giving of an adverse inference instruction has been upheld where the facts of the case are extreme, such as where the destroyed evidence was the very automobile that was the subject of the products liability action. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Concord Boat Corp. V. Brunswick Corp., 1997 WL 33352759 (E.D.Ark. 1997) citing Dillon v. Nissan Motor Co., 986 F.2d 263 (8th Cir. 1993)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Adverse Inference, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc.; Issuance of Adverse Inference Instruction often ends the litigation

Posted by rjbiii on August 31, 2007

The court in Zubulake pointed out that the giving of an adverse inference instruction often terminates the litigation in that it is “too difficult a hurdle” for the spoliating party to overcome. The court therefore concluded that the adverse inference instruction is an “extreme” sanction that should “not be given lightly.” Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Morris v. Union Pacific R. R., 373 F.3d 896, 900 (8th Cir.2004)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Adverse Inference, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc.; Effect of an adverse inference instruction

Posted by rjbiii on August 31, 2007

Imposition of an adverse inference instruction has been recognized as a powerful tool in a jury trial since, when imposed, it basically brands one party as a bad actor, guilty of destroying evidence that it should have retained for use by the jury. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Morris v. Union Pacific R. R., 373 F.3d 896, 900 (8th Cir.2004)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Adverse Inference, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc; Purposes of Monetary Sanctions

Posted by rjbiii on August 31, 2007

Like an adverse inference, an award of costs serves both punitive and remedial purposes: It deters spoliation and compensates the opposing party for the additional costs incurred. Such compensable costs may arise either from the discovery necessary to identify alternative sources of information, or from the investigation and litigation of the document destructions itself. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing U.S. Phillip Morris USA, Inc., 327 F.Supp. 2d 21 (D.D.C. 2004)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Duty to Produce, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Monetary Damages, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa; Adverse Inference, exclusion are drastic measures

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

In exercising its discretion, a court may exclude the spoiled evidence or allow the jury to infer that the party spoiled the evidence b/c the evidence was unfavorable to the party’s case. However, these sanctions are considered drastic, and courts generally try to avoid imposing them when lesser sanctions are available. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Morris v. Union Pacific R. R., 373 F.3d 896, 900 (8th Cir.2004)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Exclusion of Evidence, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa; Sanctions appropriate for mere negligent destruction of evidence

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

Though the nature of the sanction depends in part on the state of mind of the destroyer, some remedy may be appropriate even where the destruction is merely negligent. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Chan v. Triple 8 Palace, Inc., 2005 WL 1925579 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa; Monetary damages awarded for destruction of evidence

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

Where a party to litigation has destroyed relevant evidence, monetary sanctions have been awarded to cover the opposing party’s costs incurred in investigating the discovery abuses and related motions. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Housing Rights Center v. Sterling, 2005 WL 3320739 (C.D. Cal. 2005)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Monetary Damages, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa; Factors to help determine severity of sanctions for spoliation

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

The seriousness of the sanctions imposed by a court as a result of spoliation of evidence depends on (Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Menges v. Cliffs Drilling Co., 2000 WL 765082 *6 (E.D.La.2000))):

  • The degree of fault of the party who altered or destroyed the evidence;
  • The degree of prejudice suffered by the opposing party; and
  • Whether there is a lesser sanction that will avoid substantial unfairness to the opposing party.

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa, Inc., Demand Letter and Reasonable Anticipation of Litigation.

Posted by rjbiii on August 27, 2007

The propounding of a demand letter has been found to be the point when litigation should be reasonably anticipated. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Housing Rights Center v. Sterling, 2005 WL 3320739 (C.D.Cal.2005)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Demand Letter, Discovery, Duty to Preserve, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland | Leave a Comment »