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Reynolds v. Bordelon

Supreme Court of Louisiana

June 30, 2015

RICHARD L. REYNOLDS
v.
ROBERT J. BORDELON III, ROBERT J. BORDELON JR., USAGENCIES CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, AUTOMOBILE CLUB INTER-INSURANCE EXCHANGE, AND/OR AUTO CLUB FAMILY INSURANCE COMPANY D/B/A TRIPLE A INSURANCE, NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INFINITY DIVISION OF NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC., A LUXURY CAR DIVISION OF NISSAN MOTORS, INSURANCE AUTO AUCTIONS CORP., ABC INSURANCE COMPANY, DEF INSURANCE COMPANY AND XYZ INSURANCE COMPANY CONSOLIDATED WITH STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY AS SUBROGEE OF/AND LINDA DUPUY
v.
ROBERT BORDELON AND USAGENCIES CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

Page 590

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 591

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL, FIRST CIRCUIT, PARISH OF ST. TAMMANY.

Christine Yvonne Voelkel, For Applicant.

Richard Allan Chopin, Michael Leon Cohen, CHOPIN, WAGAR, RICHARD & KUTCHER, LLP; Keith W. McDaniel, MCCRANIE, SISTRUNK, ANZELMO, HARDY, MCDANIEL & WEL; Michael Quirk Walshe, Jr., Justin Paul Lemaire, STONE PIGMAN WALTHER WITTMANN, LLC, For Respondent.

CLARK, J. WEIMER, J., additionally concurring. CRICHTON, J., additionally concurs and assigns reasons.

OPINION

Page 592

[2014-2362 La. 1] CLARK, J.

We granted certiorari to determine whether Louisiana recognizes the tort of negligent spoliation. For the reasons that follow, we hold that no cause of action exists for negligent spoliation of evidence. Regardless of any alleged source of the duty, whether general or specific, public policy in our state precludes the existence of a duty to preserve evidence. Thus, there is no tort. Alternative avenues of recourse are available within Louisiana's evidentiary, discovery, and contractual laws. Nonetheless, we remand for further consideration of the plaintiff's petition, finding sufficient facts were alleged by the plaintiff to state a potential breach of contract claim.

[2014-2362 La. 2] FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 15, 2008, a multi-vehicle accident occurred in St. Tammany Parish. The plaintiff, Richard Reynolds, sustained injuries and filed suit against Robert Bordelon, III, the driver alleged to have caused the accident. The plaintiff also asserted claims under the Louisiana Products Liability Act against Nissan North America (" Nissan" ), the alleged manufacturer and distributer of the plaintiff's 2003 Infiniti G35, for failure of the airbag to deploy.[1] Additionally, the plaintiff's petition alleged that his insurer, Automobile Club Inter-Insurance Exchange (" ACIIE" ) and the custodian of his vehicle after the accident, Insurance Auto Auctions Corporation (" IAA" ), failed to preserve his vehicle for inspection purposes to determine whether any defects existed, despite being put on notice of the need for preservation.

ACIIE and IAA each filed exceptions of no cause of action, arguing a claim of spoliation of evidence requires " an intentional destruction of evidence for the purpose of depriving opposing parties of its use" and the petition contained no allegation of an intentional act by ACIIE or IAA. The trial court sustained the exception but allowed the plaintiff to amend his petition within fifteen days to state a cause of action pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. art. 934. ...


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