Insurance giant GEICO is being scrutinized after an East St Louis trucking company recently filed a lawsuit against the firm. According to a report in the Madison-St Clair Record, Beelman Truck Company filed the complaint alleging that GEICO had breached its duty to retain and preserve a vehicle that was to be used as part of it’s defense in an underlying car accident lawsuit with claimant, Vera Rees.
According to the complaint, Bellman Truck Co. was named a defendant in three lawsuits after Vera Rees was in a collision, resulting in injuries and death to her passengers. The plaintiff (Beelman) asserts Geico negligently shipped the vehicle in question to Africa after it was prematurely sold, impeding Beelman’s ability to defend itself in court in the three lawsuits. Beelman alleges spoliation of evidence after Geico negligently allowed the vehicle to be sold. As a result, the plaintiff has requested a trial by jury and is seeking a judgment in an amount exceeding $50,000.
East St. Louis trucking company is suing Geico after the insurance company sold a vehicle that was evidence in three lawsuits.
Unlike in federal court, it is unclear in Florida state courts when the duty to preserve evidence starts. Presumably, under Florida law, there is no legal duty to preserve evidence until a discovery request is made. While there is no doubt that a party can be punished for failing to preserve evidence after it has a duty to do so, several Florida courts have sanctioned parties for failing to preserve evidence even when there was no such duty under Florida law. Faced with this ambiguity, your lawyer should send a letter requesting evidence be preserved once a lawsuit has been reasonably anticipated to occur and discuss with opposing parties the scope of preservation at the earliest opportunity.