Case Report – Adverse inference drawn based on negligent spoliation

On February 27th, the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s bench dismissed a counterclaim because the plaintiff (by counterclaim) had allowed documents that the defendant required for its defence to be destroyed.

After terminating its franchise agreement with the defendant, the plaintiff transferred a job order file on an over-bid construction project to the new franchisee, who destroyed the file. The defendant (by counterclaim) did not allege bad faith, but alleged that the plaintiff ought to have instructed the new franchisee to safeguard the files, which were essential to its defence. The Court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant did not call an available witness in favour of raising its spoliation defence. It also held that the plaintiff had a duty to preserve the job order files that was bolstered by its own termination letter, which said it would make the records available to the defendant in the event of litigation.

Elliott v. Trane Canada Inc., 2008 NBQB 79.


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