Plaintiff filed a wrongful discharge and whistle-blower suit against his employer. The employer sent him a letter advising him to preserve all data on his company-issued laptop (which Plaintiff retained in his position for a period of time after the litigation began). Plaintiff destroyed 2200 personal files of data before returning the data to his employer.
The company sought sanctions, including dismissal of the case. The district court dismissed the case and imposed monetary sanctions of $65,000.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the destruction of the files was in bad faith, caused prejudice to the defendant, and that a lesser sanction would not be appropriate. The fee award was also affirmed.
The case is Leon v. IDX Systems Corporation, No. 04-35983 and 05-35426 (September 20, 2006). Read the opinion here.