Case Report – Sask QB rejects spoliation claim

On November 23rd, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench held there is no independent tort of spoliation in dismissing a claim against a doctor for destroying patient charts and other hospital records.

The Court dismissed the claim because there was no duty to preserve the records at the time they were destroyed, which was before litigation was filed, apparently pursuant to a routine records management process and in accordance with a compliant records retention period. The Court did not comment on whether litigation was reasonably foreseeable at the time the records were destroyed.

In the alternative, the Court cited the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision in Endean v. Canadian Red Cross Society for the proposition that spoliation is only a rule of evidence, not an independent tort. It did not deal with the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Spasic (Estate) v. Imperial Tobacco Ltd., where the Court held it was not plain and obvious that a pleading based on the tort of spoliation discloses no reasonable cause of action and therefore that claims based on the tort should be allowed to proceed to trial.

Galenzoski v. Awad, 2007 SKQB 436 (CanLII).

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