Cases of Note

Trumbo, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 2003 Tenn. App. LEXIS 572

August 11th, 2003

Trumbo

OVERVIEW: The tortfeasor challenged the judgment, contending that the trial court erred in finding that the employer had no duty to preserve the temperature gauges, in finding that it failed to prove causation, and that it had an independent cause of action for spoliation. The appeals court disagreed. Regardless of whether the employer had a duty to preserve the temperature gauges, the tortfeasor failed to proffer evidence that the gauge would have materially assisted it in defending the lawsuit filed by the employee. Further, the employer's internal investigation of the accident indicated that the temperature gauge normally relied upon by its employees was functioning at the time of the accident and was not a contributing factor. The consistent testimony was that the temperature reading after the accident was well above the range of safe temperatures for engaging the tank's agitator. A key gauge was also broken when it was removed by the employer for its investigation. Once this occurred, there were no tests to determine whether the gauge was operating properly on the day of the accident. In light of this holding, the court declined to consider the spoliation of evidence claim.

OUTCOME: The judgment was affirmed. (Click here for opinion)

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