Case Law

Jury to Decide Issue of Intent for Spoliation

Illinois

Cahill v. Dart, 2016 U.S. Dist. Lexis 166831 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 2, 2016 In this malicious prosecution dispute, the plaintiff moved for an adverse inference instruction, alleging that the defendants intentionally failed to fully preserve a critical video recording. While the plaintiff promptly sought a copy of the videotape, the plaintiff ultimately received incomplete footage. The court held that under FRCP 37(e) an adverse inference instruction is appropriate only if the defendants “intentionally allowed the video to be destroyed,” which the court noted was “a close one” in this case. Because the partial destruction of the video was closely tied to the plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim, the court determined that the jury, not the court, should decide whether the destruction of the video was intentional. While the court declined to grant an adverse inference sanction, the court stated that, “at the very least, the jury should be informed that the video is missing because Defendants failed to fulfill their duty to preserve it.”

Keywords: Lockup, Sanctions, Duty to Preserve, Destruction, Rule 37(e)