Judge Dakota D. Ramseur
Caldwell sued her prior landlord for a failure to return property and the loss of her personal property after an unlawful eviction asserting over $25,000 in damages. While Caldwell was restored to the tenancy, it was alleged landlord illegally and improperly removed personal items from the premises that were then improperly securedand discarded–thus, lost to tenant. The court found where a tenant’s property was removed by the marshal at landlord’s request after an eviction; landlord was responsible for storing the property for a reasonable period of time and may be liable in negligence for failing to do so. It stated improper handling and storage may include placing items on the curb–rather than placing them into storage–as was done here. Testimony revealed landlord negligently removed Caldwell’s property, including large items listed in her exhibit and placed them on the curb or a U-Haul truck that were then taken by others. The court found even if landlord provided proper notice to Caldwell—it found that it did not—same would not fully mitigate landlord’s negligence. As evidence was discarded during a pending litigation, sanctions were found appropriate for spoliation. The court credited Caldwell’s testimony, awarding her $10,104 plus interest.