Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sixth Circuit Spoliation Standards for Adverse Inference Instruction

Stocker v. United States, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 1089 (6th Cir. Jan. 17, 2013):

[A] "party seeking an adverse inference instruction based on the destruction of evidence must establish (1) that the party having control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time it was destroyed; (2) that the records were destroyed with a culpable state of mind; and (3) that the destroyed evidence was relevant to [a] party's claim or defense such that a reasonable trier of fact could find that it would support that claim or defense." [Beaven v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 622 F.3d 540, 553 (6th Cir. 2010)] (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The requisite "culpable state of mind" may be established through a "showing that the evidence was destroyed knowingly, even if without intent to breach a duty to preserve it," but even negligent conduct may suffice to warrant spoliation sanctions under the appropriate circumstances. Id. at 554 (internal quotation marks, alteration, and citations omitted).

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