Appellate Division First Department Weighs in on Spoliation Sanctions Against Defendants
March 8, 2018
Appellate Division First Department
In an Order dated January 18, 2018, the Appellate Division First Department affirmed Justice Moulton’s decision entered on November 9, 2015, granting plaintiff’s motion for spoliation sanctions against a defendant.
The Appellate Division First Department did not find it convincing that the first claim for personal injuries related to pipes was not made until 2000 because it was evident that Defendant was aware that these records may be needed for future litigation when Defendant lost and destroyed countless records related to asbestos-containing pipes in the 1990’s. Specifically, Defendant knew of:
- The extensive history of personal injury claims from other asbestos-containing products.
- Filed Worker’s Compensation claims.
- Furthermore, prior to destroying the records, Defendant even considered the possibility of ligation, which was proven by internal memorandums showing discussions about the risk-benefit of continuing the manufacture and sale of pipes as well as Defendants insurance carriers potentially withdrawing liability coverage for pipes.
- Moreover, Defendant entered a litigation cooperation agreement when purchasing the pipe business line from Johns-Mansville.
Thus, the court found that Defendants actions constituted spoliation and in accordance with the spoliation inference rule, it was held that a jury will be charged with an adverse inference at the time of trial.