Issue: Under federal law, what standard is applied when reviewing a decision from the tax court for allegations involving due process and notice?
|Area of Law:||Litigation & Procedure, Tax Law|
|Keywords:||Abuse of discretion; Due process, notice; Question of law|
|Cited Cases:||397 U.S. 254; 402 F.3d 398; 293 F.3d 633; 414 F.3d 442; 719 F.2d 23; 488 F.3d 142; 407 U.S. 67|
An issue that can come into play when critical evidence is missing involves spoliation. Spoliation is the destruction of relevant evidence by a party or a party’s agents. See Hoffman v. Ford Motor Co., 587 N.W.2d 66, 71 (Minn. Ct. App. 1998), cited in Tabish v. Target Corp., No. A10–2129 (Minn. Ct. App. June 27, 2011). “Spoliation encompasses the destruction of evidence through inadvertence or negligence, and may also include the destruction of evidence by a non-party under certain circumstances.” Tabish, at 4 (citing Himes v. Woodings–Verona Tool Works, Inc., 565 N.W.2d 469, 470–71 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997)). But outright destruction of the evidence is not always necessary in order for spoliation to occur; spoliation of evidence also includes “the failure to preserve property for another’s use as evidence in pending or future litigation." Miller v. Lankow, 801 N.W.2d 120, 127 (Minn. 2011) (quotation omitted).
The court may sanction a party who fails to preserve evidence if that party gains an evidentiary advantage due to its failure. Tabish, at 4. "A [spoliation] sanction is only appropriate if the unavailability of the evidence results in prejudice to the opposing party." Foss v. Kincade, 766 N.W.2d 317, 323 (Minn. 2009). The appropriate sanction for spoliation is determined by the prejudice to the opposing party in light of the nature of the evidence lost in the context of the claim asserted, as well as the potential for remediation of the prejudice. Tabish, at 4 (citing Patton […]