NYPD Motion for Sanctions Denied When No Prejudice Shown by Lost Cell Phone Footage
In Simon et. al. v. City of New York et. al., Case No. 14-8391 (S.D.N.Y., Jan. 5, 2017), Plaintiffs sued the City of New York as well as several NYPD police officers for false arrest and violations of the First, Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. After discovery, Defendants filed a Motion for Sanctions against Plaintiff Courtney Simon, alleging that he failed to preserve cell phone video footage he recorded on the night of his arrest.
The court looked at FRCP 37(e)(1), because it determined that Defendants made no contention that Simon acted with intent to deprive them of the evidence, and Rule 37(e)(1) provides that if ESI is lost and another party is prejudiced by that loss, the court may order “measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice.” The court denied Defendants’ sanctions motion because Defendants had failed to show that they suffered any prejudice because of the loss of the video. Although Defendants asserted that the video was the best evidence of the presence and location of a certain weapon as well as the events that led to Plaintiffs’ arrests, the court found that they were merely speculating, as they did not know the content of the lost cell phone footage. Even assuming the video did capture the location of the gun, such evidence would be irrelevant to whether Plaintiffs were wrongly arrested. As a result, the court denied the Motion for Sanctions. Ultimately, the court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to all counts except for the claim of false arrest, which was permitted to go to trial.