Intentional Destruction of Evidence California Law
In Cedars-Sinai Medical Center v. Superior Court (Bowyer) (1998), the court specifically held "that there is no tort remedy for the intentional spoliation of evidence by a party to the cause of action to which the spoliated evidence is relevant, in cases in which the spoliation victim knows or should have known of the alleged spoliation before the trial or other decision on the merits of the underlying action." (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center v. Superior Court (Bowyer), supra, 18 Cal. 4th at pp. 17-18.)
While the court acknowledged "that the intentional destruction of evidence should be condemned" ( id. at p. 8), it refused to create a tort remedy for such destruction.
the court's decision was based on its conclusion that non-tort remedies existed to rectify the intentional destruction of evidence by a party.
These remedies included permitting the trier of fact to draw an unfavorable evidentiary inference against the party who destroyed the evidence ( Evid. Code, 413; BAJI No. 2.03); issue, evidentiary, terminating and monetary sanctions for destroying evidence that should have been produced during discovery ( C.C.P., 2023); state bar disciplinary proceedings against any lawyer participating in the spoliation of evidence; and criminal penalties ( Pen. Code, 135).
The court's disinclination to create a tort remedy for spoliating evidence was also based, in part, on the "uncertainty of the fact of harm in spoliation cases." (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center v. Superior Court (Bowyer), supra, 18 Cal. 4th at p. 13.)