Sometimes, when a party to a case wrongfully destroys an important piece of evidence, the other side may be entitled to seek, and obtain, a penalty from the party who caused the destruction. The remedy to which you may be entitled for the “spoliation” of evidence can vary depending on the facts. If the destruction of the evidence was due to negligence, the penalties would be less severe than if the destruction was intentional. In some cases, you may be able to obtain money sanctions, or you may be able to persuade the trial judge to give the jury a specific instruction that says that they, the jury, may make in their deliberations certain negative factual inferences against the party who destroyed the evidence. This might include such things as making an inference that the destroyed evidence was relevant and was harmful to the destroying side’s case.
When it comes to demanding evidence, discovering that evidence has been destroyed and seeking remedies for improperly destroyed evidence, there may be many procedural options available to you. The key is having a detailed understanding of the rules and the law. That means having a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney on your side.
The Fresno Bee reported on the wrongful termination case of a restaurant manager in Fresno, which was an example of this type of scenario. J.O. was the general manager of a restaurant chain’s location near Fresno State University. The manager had been with the employer for more than a decade, receiving “outstanding performance reviews” along the way. In 2014 and 2015, things allegedly changed, however. The manager developed carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrist and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based upon the workplace injury to her wrist. After that, the employer’s upper management allegedly hatched a plot to retaliate against the manager for filing the workers’ comp claim, according to the report.
The employer fired the manager in January 2015, after accusing her of stealing $600 in cash from a safe. The employer asserted that it had video footage showing the manager improperly taking the money.
As the case proceeded to trial, the employer’s case had certain weaknesses that J.O.’s legal team was able to exploit. For one thing, there were some factual inconsistencies. The employer asserted that the manager took the money on December 29, 2014. An assistant manager at the location, however, took the witness stand and testified that he last saw the cash in an envelope on December 30, 2014, the day after the alleged theft, the Bee reported.
There was also the matter of the alleged video footage. As part of pre-trial and trial procedures in a case like this, the employee would be entitled to view the footage. J.O.’s legal team asked to see the video footage, but the employer allegedly refused and destroyed the video.
In J.O.’s lawsuit, the evidence of the destroyed video proved to be very strong. After four hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in which the manager received $7.97 million.
If you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, the Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch are ready to help. We have spent many years helping workers to use the legal system to get what they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
What Happens When Your California Employer Forces You to Sign an Arbitration Agreement Written in a Language You Don’t Comprehend, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Oct. 15, 2018
Employment Contracts, Arbitration Clauses, and Your California Wrongful Termination Lawsuit, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Jan. 25, 2018