This entry was posted in Evidence, Oklahoma, Spoliation and tagged Oklahoma, Sanctions, Spoliation, Spoliation – Fire Scene.
In Okla. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Omega Flex, Inc., No. CIV-22-18-D, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197755, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (the District Court) determined spoliation sanctions were not warranted after a home was demolished for repair following a joint scene examination.
The insurer, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (Insurer) provided a policy of insurance to Michael and Sondra Diel (the Diels). On July 11, 2020, the Diels’ home was struck by lightning and their attic caught fire. Following the loss, Insurer retained both counsel and fire origin and cause experts to inspect the Diels’ property. Insurer’s counsel informed in-house counsel for Omega Flex, Inc. (Omega Flex) via a letter dated July 14, 2020, that a preliminary investigation indicated the fire may have been caused by an Omega Flex product—specifically, TracPipe Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST). Insurer’s counsel invited Omega Flex to inspect the property, noting: “It is anticipated that the loss will exceed $300,000” and stating that any inspection “must be completed during the next two weeks. At that time, the homeowner will proceed with demolition to rebuild.” (Emphasis added).
This entry was posted in Evidence, Indiana, Spoliation and tagged Indiana, Spoliation, Third Party.
In Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana as Subrogee of Ramona Smith v. Blue Sky Innovation Group, Inc., et al, No. 22A-CT-1924, 2023 Ind. App. LEXIS 157, the Court of Appeals of Indiana (Appellate Court) reversed a trial court ruling that granted the motion to dismiss filed by Michaelis Corporation (Michaelis), a restoration company. The Appellate Court ruled that the trial court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s spoliation and negligence claims against Michaelis, who discarded evidence relating to the cause of the fire at issue.
This entry was posted in Negligence, New Jersey, Spoliation and tagged Causation, Negligence, New Jersey, Spoliation.
In 27-35 Jackson Ave., LLC v. Samsung Fire & Marine Inc. Co., No. A-2925-19, 2021 N.J. Super LEXIS 120, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (Appellate Division) considered whether the lower court properly granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion. In its motion, the defendant argued that the plaintiff could not establish proximate cause between the defendant’s alleged conduct of destroying or losing evidence and the plaintiff’s inability to prove liability against other responsible third parties. The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling, finding that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence of a viable liability claim against potentially responsible third parties in the underlying claim. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Arkansas, Evidence, Spoliation and tagged Arkansas, Evidence - Hearsay, Evidence - Public, Spoliation – Fire Scene.
In Am. Nat’l Prop. & Cas. Co. v. Broan-Nutone, No. 5:18-CV-5250, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203267 (W.D. Ark.), a subrogating carrier filed a product liability lawsuit alleging that a defective bathroom fan caught fire and caused property damage. Prior to trial, the defendants/manufacturers filed motions to: (i) prevent the plaintiff’s experts from testifying for allegedly spoliating evidence; and (ii) prevent the admission of the fire marshal’s report as hearsay and/or as prejudicial, confusing and/or misleading. The court denied the defendants motions, thereby allowing all of the evidence to be presented by the subrogating carrier at trial. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Evidence, Pennsylvania, Spoliation and tagged Burden of Proof, Pennsylvania, Spoliation.
Courts are faced with the difficult task of drawing a line to determine when the failure to preserve evidence becomes culpable enough to permit a judicial remedy. In State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Cohen, No. 19-1947, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163681, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (District Court) made clear that a party is not entitled to a spoliation sanction without proof that the alleged spoliation was beyond accident or mere negligence. The District Court emphasized that when evidence goes missing or is destroyed, the party seeking a spoliation sanction must show that the alleged spoliation was intentional and that the alleged spoliator acted in “bad faith” before adverse inferences will be provided. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Idaho, Spoliation and tagged Idaho, Third Party Spoliation.
Idaho is the latest of several states that now recognize an independent tort against third parties that willfully compromise evidence in an attempt to interfere with a potential civil lawsuit. Courts have long provided remedies for evidence spoliation when the wrongdoer is a direct party to the litigation, such as providing an adverse inference instruction against the spoliating party. However, courts have not always granted relief to plaintiffs alleging third party spoliation. In Raymond v. Idaho State Police, 451 P.3d 17 (Idaho 2019), the Supreme Court of Idaho formally adopted the tort of Intentional Interference With A Prospective Civil Action By Spoliation Of Evidence By A Third Party (Third Party Spoliation). Adopting this tort provides an avenue of spoliation relief against parties who are not part of the underlying civil lawsuit. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Evidence, Spoliation, Subrogation, Texas and tagged Spoliation, Subrogation, Texas.
The extent to which a loss scene can be altered before adversaries can legitimately cry spoliation has long been a mysterious battleground in the world of subrogation. In the case of In re Xterra Constr., LLC, No. 10-16-00420-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 3927 (Tex. App. – Waco, May 15, 2019), the Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District, addressed the question of when a party has a duty to preserve evidence. The court found that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions on the defendants for the spoliation of evidence as the evidence at issue was already gone by the time the defendants knew or reasonably should have known there was a substantial chance a claim would be filed against them. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Evidence, Florida, Spoliation and tagged Florida, Spoliation.
In Amerisure Ins. Co. v. Rodriguez, 43 Fla. L. Weekly 2225 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., Sept. 26, 2018), the Third District Court of Appeals of Florida addressed whether a third-party spoliation claim should be litigated and tried at the same time as the plaintiff’s underlying tort case. The court held that since the third-party spoliation claim did not accrue until the underlying claim was resolved, the spoliation cause of action could not proceed until the plaintiff resolved his underlying claim. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Rhode Island, Spoliation and tagged Rhode Island, Spoliation.
In Amica Mutual Ins. Co. v. BrassCraft Mfg., Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88986 (D.R.I. May 29, 2018), the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island addressed the question of whether the defendant was so unfairly prejudiced by the subrogating insurer’s spoliation of evidence that dismissal of the plaintiff’s case was the appropriate Rule 37(b)(2)(a)(i)-(vi) sanction. The court, focusing on the potential for undue prejudice to the defendant, granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Continue reading
This entry was posted in Indiana, Spoliation and tagged Discovery-Sanctions, Indiana.
On January 23, 2018, the Northern District of Indiana issued a decision that clarifies what constitutes spoliation of evidence under Indiana law. In Arcelormittal Ind. Harbor LLC v. Amex Nooter, LLC, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10141 (N.D. Ind.), the defendant filed a motion for sanctions, alleging that the plaintiff intentionally spoliated critical evidence. The defendant sought dismissal of the action, asserting that the plaintiff intentionally discarded and lost important physical evidence within hours of a fire that occurred while the defendant’s employees were performing work at its facility. The decision underscores the importance of taking immediate action to properly identify and secure potentially material evidence in order to satisfy one’s duty to preserve pre-suit evidence and avoid any spoliation defenses and associated sanctions. Continue reading