Bachmeier v. Wallwork Truck Centers

In Bachmeier v. Wallwork Truck Centers, 507 N.W.2d 527, 532 (N.D. 1993) the Court reversed and remanded a trial court's sanction of summary judgment against a party when the party failed to preserve evidence, in that case the right front hub of a truck. Id. at 535. The party moving for sanctions had argued it would be irreparably prejudiced without the actual hub in question. Id. at 534. The Court directed the trial court to make findings as to why less restrictive sanctions were not appropriate: "Although we agree with the defendant and the trial court that the actual hub would be superior to the photographs and the testimony of a metallurgical engineer, dismissal of a case with prejudice requires more than an undifferentiated finding of prejudice. Prejudice is a matter of degree, and trial courts have the duty to impose the least restrictive sanction in light of the circumstances. A determination of the appropriate sanction in a case such as this requires consideration of the significance of the detriment to the defendant (and possibly to Bachmeier, as well), the culpability of Bachmeier, and the efficacy of lesser sanctions for leveling the playing field. Without these considerations, the trial court's analysis is incomplete." Id. at 535. On remand, the trial court once again granted summary judgment for the defendant, only this time we noted the trial court addressed the three factors of culpability, prejudice, and availability of less severe sanctions. Bachmeier v. Wallwork Truck Centers, 544 N.W.2d 122, 124 (N.D. 1996)