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"Spoilation"

SPOILATION (OF RECORDS)

The hiding or destruction of litigation evidence. Remedies include the “spoliation inference” which tells the fact finder that an adverse inference may be drawn that the evidence concealed would have been harmful to the case of the person who concealed it; discovery sanctions; or a separate tort action. Some jurisdictions feel the tort of FRAUDULENT CONCEALMENT is sufficient to deal with issues of spoliation. Fraudulent concealment has the following elements
(1) The defendant had a legal obligation to disclose evidence in connection with existing or pending litigation;
(2) The evidence was material to the litigation;
(3) The plaintiff could not have reasonably obtained access by other means;
(4) The defendant intentionally withheld, altered, or destroyed the evidence with the purpose of disrupting the litigation; and
(5) The plaintiff was damaged in the underlying litigation by having to rely on an evidential record that did not contain the evidence the defendant concealed.


See also concealment. Spoilation also refers to the violent seizure of real or personal property.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016

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