Non-Spoliation Letter

What is a Non-Spoliation Letter, and Why Does It Matter to My Lawsuit?

Author: Brandon D. Smith, Esq.

It is sometimes the case that, following an accident, evidence goes missing, is misplaced
or discarded, or, in the more egregious cases, is intentionally destroyed or discarded. This could
be as a result of a business policy of only holding and/or storing surveillance film for a
maximum of 3-days, after which the surveillance film is automatically discarded. Thus, it is good
legal practice to send opposing counsel a non-spoliation letter if the sought-after evidence is
and/or could be deemed to be of a temporary life-span or could possibly be destroyed by its very
nature (such as the surveillance film mentioned above). But what is a Non-Spolitation Letter? A
non-spoliation letter is a legal tool attorneys use to put your legal adversary on notice of specific
evidence or types of evidence to preserve for litigation, and subsequently for trial. The term
“Spoliation” means to tamper with, destroy, modify, reduce, convert, or alter in any way, shape,
or form, a particular type or piece of evidence as the evidence was in its true organic original
form. Preserving evidence is important for trial, and preserving a specific type or piece of
evidence can make a huge difference in your lawsuit.

In the same vein, non-spoliation letters can be hybrid in nature. Sometimes I do not know
exactly what the evidence is going to be because the discovery phase of that particular case is
still in its early stages. However, in other cases, after I have legally analyzed a case based on its
merits and legal theories, I will want to mention and delineate specific evidence to be preserved.
These include vehicle black boxes in wrongful death cases, surveillance film in slip-and-fall
cases, corporate meeting minutes of board members in ultra-hazardous equipment cases,             specific sharp objects, training manuals and/or safety procedures in hotel premises liability cases, and time sheets and other business records kept in the regular course of business in cases involving a shooting and premises liability (as well as many other types of evidence).

There are no set formulae or indices for how to craft these types of letters, or what specific evidence one should include. These types of letters are crafted on a case-by-case basis depending on your case’s specific facts, legal theories, possible affirmative defenses, and even the far-sighted legal strategy for trial. For the reasons set forth hereinabove, it is critical to hire an attorney that is experienced in prosecuting personal injury claims.

For a free consultation and
case evaluation, call us now at (561) 622-2700.

If I Am On Vacation Out-Of-State Or In A Foreign Country And Become Injured, Can I Litigate My Case In My Home State Of Florida?

Maybe – the Court must consider a 4-prong test to determine whether the equities (i.e. fairness) favor keeping your case in a Florida courtroom. This test is commonly referred to among attorneys as the Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens. The Forum Non Conveniens test is best discussed in the 1996 Florida Supreme Court case of Kinney Sys. v. Cont’l Ins. Co., 674 So. 2d 86 (Fla. 1996). As is described in Kinney, there is a “strong” presumption against disturbing the Plaintiff’s choice of forum. Therefore, if a Florida Plaintiff files a lawsuit in a Florida courtroom, the burden of proof then shifts to the at-fault Defendant to argue why fairness favors keeping the case in the foreign state/forum. To accomplish this, the at-fault Defendant must satisfy the following 4-prongs:

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Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman, P.A., Collects Toys for Local Charities

 

Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman, P.A., partnered with Operation Hope for their annual “Keeping Dreams Alive” toy drive! The firm was proud to have a collection bin inside of the office and excited to welcome past and present clients, friends, and the community in to drop off their donations. The turn out was wonderful and the firm would like to personally thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to stop by and donate to such a worthy cause. Continue reading “Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman, P.A., Collects Toys for Local Charities”

Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman P.A., partners with Operation Hope for Turkey Drive

Smith, Gaskill & Shenkman P.A., is partnering with Operation Hope for their annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive! Operation Hope’s goal is to create over 300 Thanksgiving Care Packages that include turkeys, sides, and pies. The care packages will be distributed to homeless and low income families in Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach neighborhoods on Novemeber 19, 2018.