When seeking spoliation sanctions, it’s imperative that the moving party thoroughly think through the remedies that a party requests of the court. In this case, the plaintiff only requested the most severe remedy—a default judgment—which was denied even though lesser sanctions were warranted.
In this prisoner civil rights action suit, the plaintiff filed a motion for spoliation sanctions against the defendants for not producing video evidence of the alleged assault on the plaintiff.
The plaintiff accused the defendant of using excessive force against him and alleged that the incident was caught on videotape. About a month after the incident the plaintiff asked the defendants to save the video of the assault. The defendants allege that the letter was not seen until nearly 2 years after the incident.
The video was never produced and the defendant admits the video “was never preserved, and it does not exist today.” The defendant usually will retain video footage for 30 to 45 days. Subsequently the plaintiff moved for spoliation sanctions.
Download the PDF version of this case law alert here.
Defendants’ spoliation of critical videotape evidence, after three county officials were asked to preserve it, might have led another judge to conclude that defendants intentionally deprived plaintiff of the evidence—especially given the county’s failure to produce requested video evidence in past inmate cases. After failing to find that intent, Magistrate Judge Lee opted not to grant any remedy at all.