October 2013 Bonus Case Summaries: West Virginia: Defendants’ Spoliation Warrants Costs and Fees

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Clay v. Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co. LLC, 2013 WL 4854746 (N.D.W. Va. Sept. 11, 2013).   In this racial discrimination case, the plaintiff moved for spoliation sanctions after the defendants failed to provide plaintiff with “highly relevant” and allegedly “’racist’” emails to use in depositions. Noting that the defendants not only possessed the emails, but knew of their existence, the court weighed four factors to determine whether a default judgment was appropriate: 1) the presence of bad faith, 2) the amount of prejudice, 3) the need for deterrence, and 4) the effectiveness of less drastic sanctions. Although the court berated the defendants for this “severe shortcoming,” it determined that lesser sanctions in the forms of costs and further discovery would be appropriate. The plaintiff will be able to cure some of the prejudice suffered by re-deposing six individuals at the defendants’ expense.

Topics:  Attorney's Fees, Discrimination, Evidence, Legal Costs, Racial Discrimination, Spoliation

Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Electronic Discovery Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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