Litigation hold

China Dev. Indus. Bank v Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 02987 [1st Dept. 2020]

Plaintiff did not impose a litigation hold until July 2010. However, the record does not support the court’s conclusion that plaintiff was obligated to preserve documents relevant to the transaction between the parties as early as October 2007. The evidence does not show that plaintiff “reasonably anticipated” litigating against defendants at that time, but shows rather that a credible probability of litigation against defendants arose only significantly later (see VOOM HD Holdings LLC v EchoStar Satellite L.L.C., 93 AD3d 33, 43 [1st Dept 2012]). Nor does the record support either the finding that plaintiff selectively preserved certain beneficial documents and recordings related to the transaction for purposes of supporting its legal claims against defendants or the finding that plaintiff refused to produce key witnesses or prevented defendants from deposing them.

Since plaintiff had no duty to preserve evidence in 2007 and reasonably implemented a litigation hold in 2010 upon notice (see The Sedona Conference, Commentary on Legal Holds, Second Ed.: The Trigger & The Process, 20 Sedona Conf J 341 [2019]; VOOM HD at 43), there is no issue regarding the destruction of records neither intentionally, willfully nor negligently. Accordingly, a spoliation sanction is not triggered and a culpable state of mind analysis is not reached.

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