As we say all the time, you just can't make this stuff up.
K&L Gates reported on a January 24th decision from the Southern District of Alabama. Plaintiff Sandra Evans had sued the Mobile Country Health Department alleging reverse discrimination. The court's scheduling order specifically ordered her to preserve relevant information.
In her deposition, she produced a small number of documents, but acknowledged that there were others, including e-mails. Though she would later claim that her computer had been burned, she didn't reveal that very relevant fact in her deposition.
When repeated discovery requests proved unavailing, the defendant filed a motion to compel. Plaintiff then revealed her story that her computer had crashed eight months after her complaint was filed, so she bought another one, and burned the old one because of the personal information it contained and the "threat of identity theft."
The court didn't buy it, especially in light of her deposition testimony. So why is burning your computer to destroy evidence not a good idea? The court ordered the imposition of an adverse inference instruction, required the plaintiff to pay the defendant's reasonable costs and fees associated with the motion, ordered production of the the new computer and a relevant notebook and also ordered the production of all e-mails from her personal Gmail account, which obviously would be unaffected by the burning of her computer, presuming she didn't also delete them.
Quite an expensive day for Ms. Evans.
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