Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Eighth Circuit overrules evidence spoliation claim against plaintiff who after an accident on Interstate 80 removed monitoring device from its bus. Greyhound Lines v. Robert Wade U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 061875P.pdf 04/24/2007 District of Nebraska - Omaha Greyhound sued Archway Cookies for a rear end collision between Greyhound’s disabled bus and the following Archway Cookie truck. The district court apportioned fault 85% to the following Archway vehicle and 15% to Greyhound. Eighth Circuit affirms, denies defendant’s spoliation claim and refuses to overturn district court’s finding allocating fault between the parties. The ultimate focus for imposing sanctions for spoliation of evidence is the intentional destruction of evidence indicating a desire to suppress the truth, not the prospect of litigation. Richter v.City of Omaha, __ N.W.2d __, 2007WL865842 at *4 (Neb. March 23, 2007) (unfavorable inference where "spoliation or destruction was intentional and indicates fraud and a desire to suppress the truth" Morris v. Union Pac. R.R., 373 F.3d 896, 902 (8th Cir.2004).. Thus, the district court did not err in finding spoliation had not occurred. Additionally, although some material was not preserved, the ECM data identified the specific mechanical defect that slowed the bus, and several bus passengers testified how the bus acted before the collision. See Stevenson, 354 F.3d at 748 ("There must be a finding of prejudice to the opposing party before imposing a sanction for destruction of evidence"). Defendant loses his challenge to the District Court’s fault allocation the fact finder assesses and apportions negligence among the parties, and its apportionment will be reversed only upon a showing of clear error. Baldwin v. City of Omaha, 607 N.W.2d 841, 853 (Neb. 2000) ("apportionment is solely a matter for the fact finder") The district court's assessment of fault was not a clear error

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