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Personal Injury Lawyer- Spoliation Sanctions Levied Against Defendants In Personal Injury Lawsuit

Spoliation is the failure of one party to preserve the evidence in a matter where it should reasonably believe it will be a party litigant. There is limited legal precedence in Virginia about the perimeters of the spoliation doctrine. Our firm along with Rich Rizk of Geddy, Harris, Franck and Hickman recently sought sanctions against two defendants for failing to preserve truck parts that were essential to determining the cause of the accident. In this case, a wheel had separated from the front end of the truck and struck our client who was standing on the side of the road. Immediately after the accident, the defendants’ had possession of the parts and an inspection was performed by their expert. Suit was filed against both defendants but in the discovery process they failed to produce the parts for our expert to inspect. The defendant’s claimed they did not know what happened to the parts and that they did not lose the parts intentionally. We sought sanctions against them for negligently failing to preserve the parts and asked the Court to exclude their expert from testifying at trial and to grant us a jury instruction which would allow the jury to infer that had the evidence been preserved it would have been unfavorable to the defendant’s position and favorable to plaintiff. The Court granted our request to sanction the defendants and preclude their original expert from testifying at trial. The Court took under advisement our jury instruction request. As a result of the Court’s action, one defendant is settling our client’s claim against it. The claim against the second defendant is scheduled for trial in 2012. Stay tuned.