Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez

 

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Osorio alleged he sustained serious injuries after he fell when a defective step collapsed while he ascended the basement stairs due to defendants’ negligence. Nearly one year thereafter, defendants replaced and destroyed the staircase without prior notice. Osorio moved to strike defendants’ answer, alternatively seeking an adverse inference for their spoliation of material evidence. Osorio noted he gained access to the basement via a key provided by his manager at the McDonald’s where he worked. The parties agreed the basement was locked, thus, the court ruled defendants were obliged to provide Osorio with prior notice of their intent to remove and destroy the staircase. Also, despite the active posture of the litigation, the court found defendants retained a company to remove and destroy the staircase. Further, contrary to defendants’ assertion, building superintendent testified he denied Osorio post-accident access to the basement on numerous occasions, and Osorio’s blurry photos of the staircase were no substitute for the site inspection Osorio requested. The court concluded defendants willfully and deceptively destroyed material evidence despite notice it would be needed for litigation. Osorio was granted an adverse inference, but striking the answer was unwarranted.

Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez

 

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Osorio alleged he sustained serious injuries after he fell when a defective step collapsed while he ascended the basement stairs due to defendants’ negligence. Nearly one year thereafter, defendants replaced and destroyed the staircase without prior notice. Osorio moved to strike defendants’ answer, alternatively seeking an adverse inference for their spoliation of material evidence. Osorio noted he gained access to the basement via a key provided by his manager at the McDonald’s where he worked. The parties agreed the basement was locked, thus, the court ruled defendants were obliged to provide Osorio with prior notice of their intent to remove and destroy the staircase. Also, despite the active posture of the litigation, the court found defendants retained a company to remove and destroy the staircase. Further, contrary to defendants’ assertion, building superintendent testified he denied Osorio post-accident access to the basement on numerous occasions, and Osorio’s blurry photos of the staircase were no substitute for the site inspection Osorio requested. The court concluded defendants willfully and deceptively destroyed material evidence despite notice it would be needed for litigation. Osorio was granted an adverse inference, but striking the answer was unwarranted.