Danny Lynn Electrical & Plumbing LLC et al v. Veolia ES Solid Waste Southeast, Inc. et al
OPINION AND ORDER that plaintiffs' 436 Objections are overruled and that the magistrate judge's 435 Order is affirmed as further set out in the opinion and order. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 5/4/2012. (dmn, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
DANNY LYNN ELECTRICAL &
VEOLIA ES SOLID WASTE
SOUTHEAST, INC., et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
It is ORDERED that the plaintiffs’ objections (Doc.
No. 436) are overruled and that the magistrate judge’s
order (Doc. No. 435) is affirmed.
The court adds these comments.
“A district court
reviewing a magistrate judge’s discovery order is, in
general, limited by statute and rule to reversing that
order only if it is ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to
law,’ 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a)-or, to put it another way, in the absence of a legal
error, a district court may reverse only if there was an
‘abuse of discretion’ by the magistrate judge.”
Hyundai Motor Mfg. Ala., LLC, 524 F. Supp. 2d 1348, 1350
(M.D. Ala. 2007) (Thompson, J.).
However, under any
standard of review (whether it be an abuse of discretion,
clear error, or de novo) and based upon a thorough review
of the record, the court believes the order of the
magistrate judge should be affirmed and therefore the
plaintiffs’ objections overruled.
In his order, the magistrate judge gave three reasons
for not imposing discovery sanctions upon the defendants.
spoilation actually occurred.
Second, assuming that
spoliation had occurred, the magistrate judge was not
magistrate judge reasoned would be necessary to issue
some form of discovery sanction.
Third, assuming both
that there was spoilation and that the defendants acted
in bad faith, the magistrate judge concluded that the
plaintiffs had not demonstrated prejudice.
The court affirms on the basis of the first two
reasons: this court is not convinced that spoilation
actually occurred and further concludes that, if it did,
there was no bad faith.
See Ramsey v. Gamber, 2011 WL
486139, at * 5 (M.D. Ala. Feb. 7, 2011) (Thompson, J.)
(quoting Bashir v. AMTRAK, 119 F.3d 929, 931 (11th Cir.
1997)); Vanliner Ins. Co. v. ABF Freight Sys., 2012 WL
750743, at *1 n.2 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 8, 2012) (Smith, M.J.).
At the same time, with regard to prejudice, the court
is concerned that the magistrate judge’s order could be
demonstrate what was contained in the allegedly deleted
emails in order to establish prejudice.
In the case of
destroyed evidence, however, only the party engaged in
the destruction will typically know how much prejudice
has been caused by her destructive act.
Cf. Evans v.
Mobile County Health Department, 2012 WL 206141, at *12
(M.D. Ala. Jan. 24, 2012) (Cassady, M.J.). (explaining
that the “plaintiff’s willful disregard of her obligation
to preserve evidence has inhibited the production of
evidence that may have been harmful to her case such that
whether the spoliated evidence would, in fact, have been
perhaps Evans herself, can know for certain”); Brown v.
Chertof, 563 F. Supp. 2d 1372, 1379 (S.D. Ga. 2008)
(Edenfield, J.) (“To require a party to show, before
obtaining sanctions, that unproduced evidence contains
damaging information would simply turn ‘spoliation law’
on its head.”); Telectron, Inc. v. Overhead Door Corp.,
116 F.R.D. 107, 133 (S.D. Fla. 1987) (“While it is now
documents were destroyed, the bad faith destruction of a
relevant document, by itself, ‘gives rise to a strong
inference that production of that document would have
destruction.’” (quoting Coates v. Johnson & Johnson, 756
F.2d 524, 551 (7th Cir. 1985)).
Nonetheless, despite this concern, the first two
bases for denying the plaintiffs’ request for discovery
sanctions are sufficient, on their own, to conclude that
the magistrate judge did not abuse his discretion.
DONE, this the 4th day of May, 2012.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?