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Civil litigation may be justified in cases of evidence spoliation

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2019 | Civil Litigation, San Francisco Civil Litigation Blog |

It nearly goes without saying that compelling evidence is key to successful litigation. Yet, in order for the law to be administered properly they must be some sort of fairness when it comes to litigation. This is why the parties to a case are allowed to engage in discovery, whereby they learn what evidence their opponent possesses. This allows them to anticipate the other side’s argument and prepare accordingly.

Sometimes, though, a party to civil litigation doesn’t act fairly. For example, in far too many instances a party may try to hide or destroy evidence. The act of destroying evidence is known as evidence spoliation, and it can take many forms, including erasing electronic data and shredding physical documents that are pertinent to pending litigation. When evidence spoils, an individual’s claim may be completely derailed. Although this situation may be to a litigant, he or she may be able to recover compensation for evidence spoliation via tort law claim.

In order to succeed on one of these claims, though, certain legal elements must be proven. To start, a potential civil action must be a realistic possibility. Next, there must be a contractual or legal duty to protect the evidence in question. A plaintiff in one of these lawsuits must also show that the evidence was actually destroyed, that the destruction seriously hinders their ability to prove their potential civil action, and that actual damages resulted from that limitation.

Regardless of what type of civil lawsuit an individual brings, he or she needs strong evidence to backup his or her claim. Oftentimes this evidence must be gathered from other parties. When that evidence ends up being irreparably compromised, further investigation may be warranted. Those who determine that the destruction was willful and harmful to their pending case may want to consider taking additional legal action to protect their interests.



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