Watch out for Spoliation


Whether handling a claim or already involved in litigation, it is important to understand the basics and the law regarding spoliation. This is becoming a significant aspect in all litigation, including cases involving products, transportation or premises liability.

“Spoliation” means the intentional destruction of evidence and when it is established, the fact finder may draw inference that evidence destroyed was unfavorable to party responsible for spoliation.

In general rule, it should not be surprising that the courts disfavor a party who destroys evidence. The remedies available to a victim of spoliation include sanctions, an adverse inference instructions and possible dismissal. These are all potential road maps to victory for a party harmed by spoliation.

Spoliation of evidence can occur in a number of ways. Documents can be shredded or misplaced. Physical items can be repaired, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of. Evidence can also be sold, and thereby rendered unavailable. In each of these situations, a party can suffer due to the conduct of the spoliator.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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