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Failure to Retain Evidence Leads to Dismissal of Plaintiff's Case

January 23, 2009

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In Firemen's Insurance Company of Washington v. Krenitsky, a New York judge held that the failure of the plaintiff to retain a key piece of evidence in a subrogation action warranted dismissal of the complaint. The case arose from a fire on July 11, 2004 in a Manhattan apartment building.

After gaining access to the apartment and upon concluding that the stove was the source of the fire, the plaintiff's expert advised the plaintff's subrogor, the building owner, to retain the stove for future examination by interested parties. However, when the defendants requested an inspection of the stove during discovery, the plaintiff advised that the stove could not be found. The court granted the defendants' spoliation motion based on the failure of the plaintiff to preserve the stove after the plaintiff was put on notice, based on its own expert's report, that the stove held the key to the cause and origin of the fire.

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