The case involved a Homeowner who had a dispute over payment to, and quality of work by a Contractor, who had worked for the Homeowner, repairing and replacing the interior portion of a house which was previously damaged in a fire. Prior to the Contractor actually starting a lawsuit against the Homeowner, the homeowner brought in other persons to re-do much of the Contractor’s work. Thereby, destroying virtually all of the Contractor’s work in the house. Of course, the work of the Contractor represented key evidence necessary for the claims and defenses of the Contractor. The Contractor had a right under the law to have his work inspected by his expert, so that the expert could give testimony at trial concerning same. With the evidence gone, there was nothing for the expert to inspect and testify about. The Contractor was severely prejudiced.
The Contractor sued, and during the course of the lawsuit a motion for “spoliation of evidence” (destruction of evidence) was brought by Attorney Pascazi on behalf of the Contractor. The Trial Court decided the motion, and saw it the Contractor’s way, as argued by Attorney Pascazi, and held the Homeowner responsible for spoliation of evidence. The Trial Court severely sanctioned the Homeowner. The Homeowner appealed to the Appellate Court. The Appellate Court affirmed in large part the Trial Court’s decision and order, adverse to the Homeowner, and favourable to the Contractor.
The legal precedent which was established is: As soon as a person has knowledge of a dispute which “might” involve litigation at some point in the future, then the evidence in the care and custody of that person, which bears on the dispute, must be preserved. Even if the preservation would not be easy, and even if a lawsuit has not yet been started. Knowledge that a dispute exists is all that is required to trigger the obligation to preserve evidence.
Should you, a loved one or a friend become involved in a Dispute, of any kind, seek competent legal advice as soon as possible. The law concerning preservation of evidence by both sides of the dispute is important, complicated, and requires a good experienced lawyer to address. Attorney Pascazi would also like to hear about it. Pascazi Law Offices PLLC represents persons that are involved in Disputes, as Plaintiff or Defendant.