Spoliation of evidence claims arise when evidence necessary to pursue a claim is destroyed by someone who owed a duty to prevent such destruction. In many of these cases where evidence has been destroyed, the guilty party will claim that they did not have a “duty” to preserve the evidence, and, therefore, cannot be held responsible.
In Florida, a duty to preserve evidence can arise by contract, by statute or by a properly served discovery request after a lawsuit has been filed. Florida does not recognize a common law duty to preserve evidence, so in the absence of a contract, statute or valid request, a spoliation claim will likely fail.
However, the Florida Courts have made awards in those instances where a duty existed and evidence was destroyed. In almost every product defect case the product itself is critical evidence. If it can be shown that such evidence was destroyed or spoiled then a claim may exist.
To succeed on such a claim, Florida law requires that a number of elements be proven, including:
- a potential civil action existed involving the evidence that was destroyed;
- a duty to preserve that evidence did, in fact, exist;
- the evidence has been destroyed;
- the destruction of the evidence significantly impairs the ability of the claimant to pursue the civil action;
- the destruction of the evidence has caused the inability to prove the elements of the civil action; and
- damages have resulted.
At its core, the case law in this area provides a solid foundation for claims against those who should have taken steps to protect and preserve vehicles and evidence that could have been used to prove a product defect claim.
As Spoliation of Evidence attorneys we can help
At the Didier Law Firm we understand the legal and technical elements of spoliation of evidence claims, and can assist in successfully prosecuting such claims when evidence of a product defect has been destroyed when it should not have been. Call us today so we can assist you.