Court Denies Motion for Spoliation Sanctions Due To Lack of Specificity
In Brown v. Oakland County, Case No. 14-13159 (E.D. Mich., Sept. 4, 2015), Plaintiff sued Defendant, her former employer, for age and race discrimination and wrongful termination. During discovery, Plaintiff concluded that Defendant had spoliated electronic evidence. Plaintiff filed a Motion seeking an adverse inference instruction against Defendant based upon the alleged spoliation of electronic evidence. Plaintiff did not specify what particular electronic evidence had been destroyed or how the unidentified evidence was relevant to her claims.
The court denied the motion, stating that Plaintiff had not put forth sufficient specificity required for a sanctions motion. The court outlined a three-part test, which it applies on a case by case basis, citing Byrd v. Alpha Alliance Ins. Corp., 518 F. App’x 380, 383-84 (6th Cir. 2013):
1) the party with control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time of destruction;
2) the party must have destroyed the evidence with “a culpable state of mind”; and
3) the destroyed evidence must be relevant to the case.
The court found that Plaintiff had not met any of the prongs for the test because she failed to specify what evidence Defendant allegedly destroyed. Accordingly, the court found Plaintiff’s claims speculative, and denied the motion.