Law School Case Brief
Reynolds v. Bordelon - 2014-2362 ( La. 06/30/15), 172 So. 3d 589
Louisiana expressly refuses to recognize the existence of the tort of spoliation of evidence. This holding applies whether under a general negligence approach or whether the source of the duty is readily apparent. Instead, Louisiana approaches the duty element of the negligence analysis from a policy perspective.
On March 15, 2008, a multi-vehicle accident occurred in St. Tammany Parish. Plaintiff, Richard Reynolds, sustained injuries and filed suit against defendant Robert Bordelon, III, the driver alleged to have caused the accident. Plaintiff also asserted claims under the Louisiana Products Liability Act against Nissan North America (Nissan), the alleged manufacturer and distributor of the plaintiff's 2003 Infiniti G35, for failure of the airbag to deploy. Additionally, the plaintiff's petition alleged that his insurer, Automobile Club Inter-Insurance Exchange (ACIIE) and the custodian of his vehicle after the accident, Insurance Auto Auctions Corporation (IAA), failed to preserve his vehicle for inspection purposes to determine whether any defects existed, despite being put on notice of the need for preservation. ACIIE and IAA each filed exceptions of no cause of action, arguing a claim of spoliation of evidence required an intentional destruction of evidence for the purpose of depriving opposing parties of its use and the petition contained no allegation of an intentional act by ACIIE or IAA.
Did the State of Louisiana recognize the tort of negligent spoliation?
The Court held that no cause of action existed for negligent spoliation of evidence because, regardless of any alleged source of the duty, whether general or specific, public policy in the State of Louisiana precluded the existence of a duty to preserve evidence. Furthermore, alternative avenues of recourse were available within Louisiana's evidentiary, discovery, and contractual laws.
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