Justice Robert J. Muller


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Two actions—one by homeowners involving fire damages to their house, and the second a subrogation action by their insurer—were consolidated. Time Warner Cable (TWC) sought dismissal of a third cause of action based on owners’ spoliation of evidence, and claims seeking punitive and emotional damages in a property damage suit. National Grid (NG) also sought dismissal of the punitive and emotional damage claims. The home was destroyed on two separate occasions from different fires, and a third fire caused damages. Homeowners alleged the fires were electrical in nature starting at the main service electrical panel box or generator switch box. TWC claimed it received its first notice of a potential claim after the third fire, and both it and NG participated at the fire scene in an inspection. The court found movant did not meet the preliminary criteria under Pegasus Aviation I v. Varig Logitica, failing to establish a prima facie case for sanctions. It noted while homeowners had an obligation to preserve the allegedly defective equipment, it was unclear on the record they failed to do so. TWC’s motions for spoliation sanctions in both actions were denied as premature. Also, claims for emotional damages in a property damage suit were not a recognized cause of action in the state.