Court of Federal Claims Notes Split Re Culpability Needed for Spoliation Finding
Per Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc. & Subsidiaries v. U.S. --- Fed.Cl. ----, 2009 WL 3418533 (Fed. Cl. Oct. 21, 2009):
The relevant circuit for this court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, has not definitively addressed whether a finding of bad faith is required before a court can find spoliation or impose an adverse inference or other sanction. Because many of the spoliation cases decided to date by the Federal Circuit have been patent cases in which the Federal Circuit applies the law of the relevant regional circuit, the Federal Circuit has not had the opportunity to announce a position binding on this court as to a possible “bad faith” or other standard to trigger a spoliation of evidence sanction. See United Med. Supply Co. v. United States, 77 Fed. Cl. at 266. Consequently, judges of the United States Court of Federal Claims have taken differing positions on the “bad faith” requirement. Compare, id. at 268 (“[A]n injured party need not demonstrate bad faith in order for the court to impose, under its inherent authority, spoliation sanctions.”), with Columbia First Bank, FSB v. United States, 54 Fed. Cl. 693, 703 (2002) (noting findings of bad faith are required before the court can determine that there was spoliation). While fully discussing the issues raised by a spoliation claim in the United Medical Supply case, a judge of this court discussed how the circuits are also split on this issue, with their views covering a broad spectrum. United Med. Supply Co. v. United States, 77 Fed. Cl. at 266 (and cases cited therein).