Cordoba v. Pulido
ORDER by Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong denying without prejudice to renewal 155 Motion for Adverse Inference Instruction; Magistrate's Report and Recommendation is ACCEPTED except with respect to recommendation to give an adverse inference instruction which is rejected as premature. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/6/2017)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No: C 12-04857 SBA
8 WILLIAM CORDOBA,
ORDER RE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
FOR ADVERSE INFERENCE
Dkt. 155, 184, 189
11 SILVIA PULIDO,
The Court previously referred Plaintiff’s Motion for Adverse Inference Instruction to
Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim (“Magistrate”) for resolution. In her Report and
Recommendation, the Magistrate found that the Defendant destroyed her file regarding
Stanley Kelly, an inmate with whom she allegedly had a sexual relationship. In evaluating
whether an adverse inference instruction was warranted in light of Defendant’s conduct, the
Magistrate found that: (1) Defendant had an obligation to preserve the file when it was
destroyed; (2) she acted with “a culpable state of mind”; and (3) the evidence was
potentially relevant to the claims made by Plaintiff. Dkt. 184 at 4-6 (applying Clear-View
Techs., Inc. v. Rasnick, 2015 WL 2251005 at *7 (N.D. Cal. May 13, 2015)). The
Magistrate recommended that – “if evidence about Defendant’s allegedly inappropriate
relationship with Mr. Kelley is admitted into evidence at trial” – the Court should give a
permissive adverse inference instruction pertaining to Defendant’s spoliation of evidence
Dkt. 184 at 4. However, she recommended denying Plaintiff’s request for an adverse
inference instruction based on Defendant’s failure to preserve electronic mail and a draft
report evaluation of Plaintiff. Id. at 7.
In response to the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation, Defendant filed an
objection solely with respect to the language of the adverse inference instruction proposed
by the Magistrate. Dkt. 163. Neither party has objected to any other aspect of the
Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation.
Notwithstanding its prior referral of Plaintiff’s motion, the Court finds, upon further
review of the matter, that it is premature to address Plaintiff’s request for an adverse
inference instruction. The resolution of whether such an instruction is warranted (and the
appropriate language of the instruction, if given) is dependent, as a threshold matter, on
whether and to what extent evidence regarding Defendant’s alleged sexual relationship with
Stanley Kelley is admitted during trial. Since these admissibility issues have yet to be
resolved, the Court finds it preferable from both a procedural and substantive standpoint to
revisit this issue after the admissibility of such evidence is fully briefed. In view of the
parties’ dispute regarding the relevance of Defendant’s sexual relationship with Mr. Kelley,
they should address the admission of such evidence in their motions in limine.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation is
ACCEPTED, except with respect to her recommendation to give an adverse inference
instruction, which is REJECTED as premature. Plaintiff’s Motion for Adverse Inference
Instruction is DENIED without prejudice to renewal upon the Court’s resolution of the
admissibility of evidence pertaining to Defendant’s relationship with Mr. Kelley. The
Clerk shall terminate Docket Nos. 155, 184 and 189.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG
Senior United States District Judge
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