Plaintiff filed suit claiming injury when the air bag in his automobile did not inflate following an accident. The vehicle was towed to a city pound and eventually destroyed because it was never claimed or recovered.
Holding that the plaintiff had a duty to preserve the evidence, the trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant.
The appellate court ruled that the doctrine of spoliation of evidence should be extended to a plaintiff’s “passive spoliation,” i.e. spoliation through inaction as opposed to action.
The appellate court held that a plaintiff cannot be free to stand by while crucial evidence may be altered or destroyed, and that a plaintiff has a duty to take all reasonable steps to notify the manufacturer of its potential claim and to preserve the evidence.