Court Declines to Strike Defendant’s Answer as Sanction for Spoliation of Evidence

Carroway Luxury Homes, LLC v. Integra Supply Corp., 859 N.Y.S.2d 834 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008)

In this case, plaintiff brought suit for construction delays and business expenses that arose after a forklift rented from defendant rolled over while being operated by plaintiff’s subcontractor.  Defendant answered asserting affirmative defenses and counterclaims.  Plaintiff moved to strike defendant’s answer based on intentional spoliation of evidence, asserting that defendant had sold the forklift at issue before plaintiff had the opportunity to examine it.  The court denied plaintiff’s motion, holding that striking a pleading is a drastic sanction and that the record, at that time, was insufficient to determine whether the unavailability of the forklift for examination would deprive the plaintiff of the means to prove its case.

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