Smith v. Atkinson
In Smith v. Atkinson, 771 So. 2d 429, 432-33 (Ala. 2000) the Supreme Court of Alabama explained:
In addition to proving a duty, a breach, proximate cause, and damage, the plaintiff in a third-party spoliation case must also show:
(1) that the defendant spoliator had actual knowledge of pending or potential litigation;
(2) that a duty was imposed upon the defendant through a voluntary undertaking, an agreement, or a specific request;
(3) that the missing evidence was vital to the plaintiff's pending or potential action.
Once all three of these elements are established, there arises a rebuttable presumption that but for the fact of the spoliation of evidence the plaintiff would have recovered in the pending or potential litigation; the defendant must overcome that rebuttable presumption or else be liable for damages.