The Fourth Department concluded sanctions for spoliation of evidence were appropriate, but striking defendant's pleadings was too severe a sanction. Plaintiff alleged injury from glass which fell out of defendant's (IGT's) video slot machine. Although the complaint was filed in 2008, the request to maintain the condition of the machine was not made until 2010 and the request to examine the machine was not made until 2011. The machine had been scrapped in the regular course of business in 2008:
… [W]e conclude that plaintiffs established that some sanction is warranted because IGT negligently failed to preserve the machine, but plaintiffs failed to show that the destruction of the machine was intentional or contumacious, to warrant the sanctions imposed by the court. To the contrary, the only evidence in the record concerning this issue is that IGT scrapped the machine in the normal course of business, as part of the removal and destruction of a large number of machines to create additional space in the casino. In addition, IGT established that the machine was removed from the casino at the request of the casino's owners, who were no longer parties to this action, which belies plaintiffs' contention that IGT removed and destroyed the machine for litigation purposes.
Contrary to plaintiffs' further contention, they failed to establish that the machine was destroyed before they had an opportunity to inspect it, and thus plaintiffs failed to establish that the extreme sanctions of striking IGT's answer and granting plaintiffs partial summary judgment on liability against IGT were warranted … . Mahiques v County of Niagara, 2016 NY Slip Op 02190, 4th Dept 3-25-16
NEGLIGENCE (STRIKING OF PLEADINGS TOO SEVERE A SANCTION FOR SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE)/EVIDENCE (STRIKING OF PLEADINGS TOO SEVERE A SANCTION FOR SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE)/SPOLIATION (STRIKING OF PLEADINGS TOO SEVERE A SANCTION FOR SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE)