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Update on Spoliation of Evidence in Illinois

NCJ Number
Illinois Bar Journal Volume: 85 Issue: 11 Dated: (November 1997) Pages: 530-535,541
D A Bell; M M Koesel; T L Turnbull
Date Published
7 pages
This article gives an overview of issues created by spoliation of evidence, focusing on recent developments in Illinois law.
Spoliation is the destruction, significant alteration, or non-preservation of evidence that is relevant to pending or future litigation. Courts employ a variety of tests for determining whether to impose sanctions in a given case. The most important factors are the culpability of the spoliator and prejudice to the nonoffending party. A wide spectrum of sanctions can be imposed for spoliation, up to and including dismissal or default judgment. Although the Illinois Supreme Court declined to recognize the tort of intentional spoliation, the court did decide that a claim for negligent spoliation could be stated under existing negligence law. Illinois courts will impose a variety of sanctions for spoliation that occurs during pending or threatened litigation. The courts are divided over the proper mode of analysis for spoliation claims. Some courts consider the state of mind of the spoliator as a relevant factor in imposing exclusion of evidence as a sanction. Other courts focus solely on prejudice in determining whether to uphold dismissal. Notes


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