Nationwide Recoveries

Scene Spoliation Did Not Preclude Pre-Suit Recovery

Stutman Law’s client insured the owner of a commercial property in Florida.  The property, which was leased to a plastic fabricating company, sustained damages following a fire in late 2017.  Stutman Law’s client retained an origin and cause expert who inspected the scene shortly after the fire.  The expert suspected that the fire originated at an injection molding machine utilized by the tenant at the property.  Because the investigation could not be completed at the initial inspection, the interested parties agreed to return to the scene and complete their examinations at a later date.  However, before that subsequent inspection could be completed, the tenant allowed the scene to be cleaned and repaired.  In doing so, the tenant spoliated relevant evidence and prevented our client’s expert from completing his investigation and determining the cause of the fire.

Stutman Law did not become involved in the case until a year after the fire occurred.  At that time, the tenant’s insurance carrier denied liability on the basis that the cause of the fire could not be determined.  Stutman Law aggressively argued that the tenant had spoliated the fire scene, which would result in an adverse inference against the tenant with respect to liability should the matter be litigated.  Ultimately, the tenant’s insurance carrier yielded, and the claim was settled pre-suit for 80% of our client’s recoverable damages.