There is, in fact, a division of authority among the circuits on this issue.... On one end of [the] spectrum, actually representing a distinct minority, are courts that require a showing of bad faith before any form of sanction is applied. Other courts expect such a showing, but only for the imposition of certain more serious sanctions, such as the application of an adverse inference or the entry of a default judgment. Further relaxing the scienter requirement, some courts do not require a showing of bad faith, but do require proof of purposeful, willful or intentional conduct, at least as to certain sanctions, so as not to impose sanctions based solely upon negligent conduct. On the other side of the spectrum, we find courts that do not require a showing of purposeful conduct, at all, but instead require merely that there be a showing of fault, with the degree of fault, ranging from mere negligence to bad faith, impacting the severity of the sanction. If this continuum were not complicated enough, some circuits initially appear to have adopted universal rules, only to later shade their precedents with caveats. Other times, the difference between decisions appear to be more a matter of semantics, perhaps driven by state law, with some courts, for example, identifying as “bad faith” what others would call “recklessness” or even “gross negligence.”
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