Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus

Posts Tagged ‘evidence’

How an Owner Can Spoil a Potentially Good Damage Claim

Guest Blogger: Andrew Linden

As we discussed in our prior entry, How a Commercial Landlord Can Avoid Spoiling a Potentially Good Damage Claim, a landlord/owner has a duty to preserve evidence of alleged damages to its premises in order to avoid a claim of spoliation. Shortly after we posted that entry, the Supreme Court of New Jersey addressed the issue of spoliation in a dispute between a building owner and its contractors.  Robertet Flavors, Inc. v. TriForm Constr., Inc., 203 N.J. 252 (2010), described below, provides a real-world example of how a potentially good damage claim can quickly go bad as a result of spoliation.

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How a Commercial Landlord Can Avoid Spoiling a Potentially Good Damage Claim

Guest Blogger: Andrew Linden

As any commercial landlord knows, tenants not only leave behind their “stuff,” they sometimes leave behind damages to the premises that a landlord may feel exceed normal wear and tear.  This often leads to heated disputes between the parties and, yes, even lawsuits.  When making repairs to damaged property under these circumstances, landlords must keep in mind the concept of spoliation of evidence, which is a fancy way of describing the intentional or negligent withholding, hiding, alteration or destruction of evidence relevant to a legal proceeding.

For example, let’s say a tenant in a light-industrial building employs a manufacturing process that results in an excessive amount of fine waste material accumulating in the premises, specifically in the HVAC system.  At the end of the term, the landlord discovers that the accumulation of this material in the system has potentially destroyed the functional use of the HVAC system, requiring that it be replaced.

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