Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sanctions — Spoliation — Bad Faith as Well as Prejudice Required for Adverse Inference Instruction in Eleventh Circuit

Rives v. LaHood, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4838 (11th Cir. Mar. 25, 2015):

We review a district court's decision regarding spoliation sanctions for abuse of discretion. Mann, 588 F.3d at 1310. "[A] party moving for [spoliation] sanctions must establish, among other things, that the destroyed evidence was relevant to a claim or defense such that the destruction of that evidence resulted in prejudice." Eli Lilly & Co. v. Air Express Int'l USA, Inc., 615 F.3d 1305, 1318 (11th Cir. 2010). "An adverse inference is drawn from a party's failure to preserve evidence only when the absence of that evidence is predicated on bad faith." Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. Goble, 682 F.3d 934, 947 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Mere negligence in losing or destroying . . . records is not enough for an adverse inference . . . ." Bashir v. Amtrak, 119 F.3d 929, 931 (11th Cir. 1997) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted). In Goble, we concluded that a district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting a party's spoliation claim when that party did not demonstrate that evidence was missing as a result of the opposing party's bad faith. Goble, 682 F.3d at 947-48.

The magistrate judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Rives's motion for spoliation sanctions because Rives did not demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the destruction of the evidence or that the evidence was destroyed in bad faith.

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