Company Sanctioned for Not Preserving Asbestos Documents

A company that made asbestos products in the 1980s should have anticipated it would be sued, and therefore the destruction of dozens of boxes of related documents in the 1990s was spoliation requiring sanction, a Manhattan state judge has ruled.

Justice Peter Moulton rejected claims by J-M Manufacturing Company, one of the defendants in Warren v. Amchem Products, 190281/2014, that there had to be notice of a specific claim or pending litigation to trigger a requirement to preserve documents through a “litigation hold.”

“Every corporation which reasonably anticipates litigation must preserve relevant evidence,” Moulton said in a Nov. 9 opinion.

Even when litigation doesn’t start until 25 years after the products at issue were discontinued, he said “it is neither unfair nor overly burdensome for a company to place a litigation hold for a time period commensurate with the nature and risks of the product.”

He added: “Were this otherwise, companies with knowledge of the dangers of asbestos could intentionally destroy relevant evidence, while simultaneously knowing that due to the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases, they would not be sued until decades later.”

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Source: Company Sanctioned for Not Preserving Asbestos Documents


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