Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sanctions for Spoliation Warranted Where Defendant's Document Retention Policy Placed "Operations-Level Employees" in a Control of Document Retention

The court determined that sanctions were appropriate for defendant's spoliation, in part because defendant's document retention policy allowed "operations-level employees" to determine defendant's data retention needs. "A court -- and more importantly, a litigant -- is not required to simply accept whatever information management practices a party may have. A practice may be unreasonable, given responsibilities to third parties. While a party may design its information management practices to suit its business purposes, one of those business purposes must be accountability to third parties. . . . [Here, defendant's] practices invite the abuse of rights of others, because the practices tend toward loss of data. The practices place operations-level employees in the position of deciding what information is relevant to the enterprise and its data retention needs. [Defendant] alone bears responsibility for the absence of evidence it would be expected to possess. . . . [I]t is clear that [defendant's] lack of a retention policy and irresponsible data retention practices are responsible for the loss of significant data."

Phillip M. Adams & Associates, L.L.C. v. Lenovo International, 1-05-cv-00064 (UTD March 30, 2009, Memorandum Decision).

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