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Spoliation of Evidence Cases Summarized By Injury Attorney

Spoliation of Evidence

 

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Spoliation of Evidence.  

 

See Va. Code § 17-44 Missing Evidence.


See Va. Code § 8.2-515 as to preservation of goods.

1987 Wolfe v. Virginiai Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program, 40 Va. App. 565, 580 S.E.2d 467.

The textbook definition of spoliation of evidence is the intentional destruction of evidence. Spoiliation issues also arise where evidence is lost, altered or cannot be produced. A spoliation inference may be applied if at the time the evidence was lost or destroyed a reasonable person in the defendants position should have foreseen that the evidence was material to a potential civil case. This case was remanded to the commission to determine whether or not those facts existed.

1998 Austin v. Consolidation Coal Co., 256 Va. 78, 501 S.E.2d 161.

Plaintiff injured on job allegedly as a result of defective product. Employer thereafter allegedly destroyed product. Plaintiff now seeks to pursue tort claim for spoliation of evidence. Virginia does not recognize any such duty in tort therefore there is no basis for such claim.

1996 Gentry v. Toyota Motor Corp., 252 Va. 30, 471 S.E.2d 485.

Product liability action. Plaintiff’s expert removed parts of vehicle in question. This was done without the consent or the knowledge of plaintiffs or their attorney. Trial court dismissed action because of wrongful conduct of plaintiff’s expert. Trial court’s imposition of sanction will not be reversed unless there is abuse of discretion. There is such abuse in this instance since sanction does not punish wrongdoer but punishes plaintiffs. In addition, plaintiff’s current theory of case is unrelated to part of vehicle that was destroyed. Defense theory of case focused on carburetor and their expert conceded that carburetor was not affected by what expert had done. Dismissal reversed.

1951 Starr Whitlow Robey v. Richmond Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc., 192 Va. 192, 64 S.E.2d 723.

The damaged carton in question was picked up and delivered to the defendant where it was destroyed before trial. Plaintiff testified that some six months after the accident she telephoned the manager of the defendant and asked him what disposition had been made of the carton and that he replied that it was still in the possession of the defendant. The supervisor testified that the carton was thrown away when it was believed that the plaintiff’s injuries were superficial and there was no reason to foresee a lawsuit. The plaintiff’s case was not strengthened by the failure of the defendant to preserve and produce the damaged carton since, at best, an inspection of the carton would have thrown no additional light on how or when the damage occurred. As such, there is no basis for a spoliation of evidence instruction.