La Raia v. Superior Court
In La Raia v. Superior Court, 150 Ariz. 118, 722 P.2d 286 (1986), the plaintiff became ill after her landlord sprayed toxic pesticide not approved for indoor use in her apartment. Id. at 119-20, 722 P.2d at 287-88.
After she was hospitalized, her physicians contacted the landlord to determine which pesticide had been used to spray the apartment so they could administer appropriate treatment to plaintiff. Id. at 120, 722 P.2d at 288.
The landlord falsely told the physicians that a pesticide approved for indoor use had been sprayed and destroyed the actual pesticide sprayed in the apartment. Id.
After plaintiff sued the landlord for negligence, she learned of the false information provided to the hospital and the destruction of the pesticide. Id.
She sought leave to amend her complaint to add a claim for intentional spoliation of evidence. Id.
On appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded plaintiff should have been allowed to amend her complaint. Id. at 123.
In coming to that conclusion, La Raia noted Maldonado v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co, applied Restatement Second 322 to a situation in which it was alleged that defendant negligently jerked a train car, causing plaintiff to fall under the wheels and become severely injured.
Defendant then refused to aid plaintiff and may have hindered those who came to his assistance. The court of appeals found that in the absence of prior case law, it would apply Restatement Second 322.
Having caused or contributed to plaintiff's poisoning, defendant was under a duty to act reasonably to mitigate the resulting harm. 150 Ariz. at 122.
La Raia expressly adopted Restatement Second 322, which states:
If the actor knows or has reason to know that by his conduct, whether tortious or innocent, he has caused such bodily harm to another as to make him helpless and in danger of further harm, the actor is under a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent such further harm. 150 Ariz. at 122 (quoting Restatement Second 322).