Cases Involving ''Spoliation of Evidence'' In Texas

Spoliation is the improper destruction of evidence relevant to a case. Kang v. Hyundai Corp., 992 S.W.2d 499, 502 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1999, no pet.). The intentional destruction, or spoliation, of evidence relevant to a case may, in the trial court's discretion, give rise to a presumption that the destroyed evidence would not have been favorable to its destroyer. Ordonez v. M.W. McCurdy & Co., 984 S.W.2d 264, 273 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1998, no pet.). This presumption may be rebutted by a showing that the evidence in question was not destroyed with fraudulent intent or purpose. Id. When a party believes that another party has improperly destroyed evidence, it may either move for sanctions or request a spoliation presumption. Trevino v. Ortega, 969 S.W.2d 950, 954 (Tex. 1998) (Baker, J., concurring). The trial court must then determine whether sanctions or a presumption are justified. This legal inquiry involves considering whether there was: (1) a duty to preserve evidence; (2) the negligent or intentional destruction of evidence; (3) prejudice to the nonspoliator's ability to present its case or defense. Id.