Employer's suit against college intern is dismissed for "unclean hands" after spoliation default
Industrial Quick Search, Inc. and Meiresonne & Associates, Inc. sued their own employee, a two-month college intern named Christopher Terryn, arguing that he should pay the damages they incurred after being sued by Thomas Publishing Company for plagiarizing copyrighted materials. Thomas had secured a seven-figure judgment against Industrial and Meiresonne in New York, after the New York court concluded that they were guilty of spoliation for deliberately destroying key evidentiary documents. Terryn had testified that he was coached and directed by Industrial and Meiresonne to conduct the plagiarizing for commercial profit, and they turned the tables by filing suit against him in Michigan, seeking contribution or indemnification.
The Court of Appeals dismissed the case against Terryn, holding that the terms of the New York default judgment were binding proof that Industrial and Meiresonne were guilty of wrongful conduct and therefore precluded from seeking damages arising out of their illegal actions. The judges also awarded actual and punitive sanctions against Industrial and Meiresonne, noting that theirs was a frivololous attempt to profit from their own wrong-doing.