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Proof Items Destroyed Were "Key Evidence" Required For Spoliation Sanctions

March 4, 2009

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The First Department’s recent decision in <i>Kugel v. City of New York</i>, et al., highlights the strict spoliation standard that must be met before the court will strike a party’s pleading. Namely, a pleading may be stricken due to the intentional destruction of <i>key evidence</i>. In <i>Kugel</i>, the named defendant, A. Jetta Towing, discarded documentary evidence, including tow truck invoices, because its president believed the corporation had been dissolved. A. Jetta, represented by this office, argued that the documentary evidence was not key evidence, as it was not the actual product, part, or component involved in the accident. Rather, it was argued that the key evidence was the motor vehicle that was allegedly involved in the accident. The First Department agreed and held that the documents were not key evidence warranting such a harsh sanction, thus reinstating the defendant’s answer.
Thanks to Lora Gleicher for her contribution to this post.
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