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Decker v. Target Corp.

United States District Court for the District of Utah

October 9, 2018, Decided; October 10, 2018, Filed

Case No. 1:16-cv-00171-JNP-BCW

Opinion

MEMORANDUM, DECISION, AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR FINDINGS OF SPOLIATION AND FOR SANCTIONS

Before the court is the Motion for Findings of Spoliation and for Sanctions ("Motion") filed by Caryl Jean Decker and Dennis Decker ("the Deckers") against Defendant Target Corporation ("Target"). ECF No. 27.

BACKGROUND

This Motion arises from a trip and fall incident that occurred on December 26, 2015, at the Target store located in Riverdale, Utah. Caryl Jean Decker was shopping when she tripped on a flatbed stocking cart and fell onto the floor, suffering serious injury. Mrs. Decker, bleeding from the head, received medical attention at the scene of the incident. She was transported from Target by ambulance.

In response to the incident, Target employees Mackenzie Steele and Trevor Phillips reviewed video surveillance [*2]  footage of the incident and created a copy of the portions of the video that included Mrs. Decker in the frame. Steele and Phillips did not save any other portions of the video. The unsaved portions of the footage were later automatically overwritten by Target's system, which only maintains video surveillance footage for approximately fifteen to twenty-five days.

Exactly one month after the incident, on January 26, 2016, the Deckers delivered a letter to Target, through counsel, requesting that Target preserve "all pertinent records and electronic records pertaining to [the] incident or that could relate to [the] incident," as well as "a copy of any video surveillance that shows [the] accident or the area of the accident at any time before, during, or after the event." Motion for Findings of Spoliation and for Sanctions ("Motion") Exhibit 6.

Following the demand letter and the subsequent filing of this lawsuit, the Deckers and Target engaged in several rounds of discovery and document production. On September 14, 2017, in their "Third Set of Requests for Production of Documents," the Deckers specifically requested Target's training records and safety statistics from 2015. However, Target's [*3]  internal policy only mandated the retention of safety records and safety statistics for a period of twelve months, and therefore any materials from 2015 that had not already been produced had been deleted.

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2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175373 *; 2018 WL 4921534

CARYL JEAN DECKER and DENNIS DECKER, Plaintiffs, v. TARGET CORPORATION, a Minnesota corporation, Defendant.

Subsequent History: Motion granted by, in part, Motion denied by, in part, Motion denied by Decker v. Target Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176256 (D. Utah, Oct. 12, 2018)

CORE TERMS

footage, training, cart, video, statistics, prejudiced, spoliation, flatbed, surveillance, minutes, notice, floor, card, attendance, imminent, deleted, binder, saved