In Awon v Harran Transp. Co., Inc., the Second Department reaffirmed the importance of proving that the destruction of evidence has prejudiced a party that seeks to strike pleadings based on spoliation of evidence. If the destroyed evidence prevents an adversary from defending a claim or allegation, the party that destroyed the evidence is subject to severe sanctions. This principal even extends to situations where the destruction was not willful or contumacious. Conversely, if the evidence lost is not central to the case, the destroying party may escape unscathed, without any sanctions being imposed.
Thanks to Lora Gleicher for her contribution to this post.