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New York Court Imposes Sanctions on Plaintiff in Car Accident Case

Collisions frequently cause back and neck injuries and people hurt in crashes have the right to seek compensation for their harm from the parties that caused the accident via civil claims. A plaintiff must respect a defendant’s right to conduct discovery, though, which may include submitting to a medical examination. If they do not, it may adversely impact their right to recover damages, as illustrated in a recent opinion issued in a car accident case in which a New York court sanctioned the plaintiff for refusing to undergo an examination with the defendant’s expert. If you were injured in a car crash, it is smart to speak to a Syracuse car accident lawyer about your options for pursuing a just outcome.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff sustained injuries to his cervical and lumbar spine and right shoulder in a collision involving a car driven by the plaintiff. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, who then removed the matter to federal court. During discovery, the defendant obtained information indicating that the plaintiff suffered similar injuries in a previous accident and directed the plaintiff to appear for a medical examination prior to undergoing surgical repair of his injuries.

Allegedly, the plaintiff underwent a discectomy without notifying the defendant or appearing for an examination. The defendant moved for sanctions arguing that the plaintiff engaged in spoliation by undergoing surgery prior to a medical exam. The plaintiff opposed the motion, but the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation in favor of granting the motion. The court ultimately adopted the magistrate’s report and recommendation and imposed sanctions on the plaintiff. The plaintiff then appealed.

Spoliation in Personal Injury Cases

The courts have the inherent authority to impose sanctions on parties that engage in conduct that abuses the judicial process. A party seeking sanctions must produce convincing and clear evidence that sanctionable conduct occurred, and the court must specifically find that the opposing party acted in bad faith.

Additionally, a court should only exercise the inherent power to sanction in cases in which there is clear evidence that the behavior in question was motivated by improper purposes and is entirely without color. In the subject case, the court explained that spoliation is the significant alteration or destruction of evidence or the failure to adequately preserve evidence for another party’s use in pending matters or situations where litigation is reasonably foreseeable.

The destruction of evidence that is key to proving an issue in dispute at trial can support the inference that the evidence was unfavorable to the party that destroyed it. Here, the court concluded that the plaintiff destroyed evidence that was favorable to the defendant’s defense. Thus, the court upheld the sanctions imposed on the plaintiff.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Syracuse Lawyer

Car crashes can cause significant injuries that often require surgery, but people may unwittingly harm their right to recover damages in the pursuit of necessary treatment. If you were hurt in a collision, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss what measures you can take to protect your interests. The knowledgeable car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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