The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently published a decision affirming a jury’s verdict for the defendant in a personal injury and product liability lawsuit that was filed against a retailer by a woman who was injured in a bicycle accident. The woman’s claim, which was ultimately rejected by the jury, was that the defendant sold her a bicycle with defective brakes and should be held accountable for injuries that she suffered shortly after purchasing the bike. Because of the appellate opinion affirming the jury’s verdict, the plaintiff will not be compensated for the injuries she suffered in the accident.
The Plaintiff Is Injured in a Crash Shortly After Purchasing the Bike from the Defendant
The plaintiff in the case of Applebaum v. Target Corporation is a woman who purchased a bicycle from the defendant and injured her shoulder when she crashed the bike on a hill during her first ride. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the bicycle in question had been previously returned by another customer before the plaintiff bought it, and she alleged that the rear-brake assembly should have been repaired before the bike was sold to her. After her injury, the plaintiff filed a product liability claim against the defendant and the bike’s manufacturer, alleging that her fall was caused by the defective brake assembly that was not properly repaired before she bought the bike.
The Defendant Was Unable to Locate the Bicycle Before the Trial, and The Jury Ultimately Rejected the Plaintiff’s Claim
The plaintiff returned the bicycle to the defendant shortly after her injury, but she requested that the defendant produce the bike and any repair records before trial as evidence for her case. In response to her requests, the defendant claimed that they could not locate the bicycle and that they did not keep the type of repair records the plaintiff desired. Alleging that the defendant intentionally destroyed or lost the evidence, the plaintiff requested that the jury be instructed to draw an inference against the defendant and assume the evidence would have shown the bike was not adequately repaired.
The trial court partially granted the plaintiff’s requested instruction but did not use the exact language she proposed. After trial, the jury found that the defendant was not negligent, and the plaintiff appealed. Her argument on appeal that the court’s rejection of her proposed jury instruction unjustly influenced the verdict was not accepted by the appellate court, which ruled that her proposed language would have added nothing meaningful and did not affect the verdict.
Sanctions for Destroying Evidence in a New Mexico Personal Injury Case
New Mexico personal injury defendants may be sanctioned by a court if they destroy or intentionally lose evidence in anticipation of litigation. A common sanction for such conduct is a “spoliation adverse inference instruction” that is given by the judge to the jury before they engage in deliberations. The jury may be instructed to assume the missing evidence would be harmful to the defendant if they believe the evidence was intentionally lost or destroyed before trial.
Although sanctions for spoliation do not always result in a victory for the plaintiff, the court’s ability to give these instructions discourages defendants from destroying evidence and allows plaintiffs some recourse when important evidence cannot be produced. The specific language of a spoliation instruction can influence a jury’s verdict, and a skilled New Mexico personal injury attorney can increase the likelihood that a jury is instructed in the manner most favorable to the plaintiff’s case.
Contacting a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney to Accept Your Case
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a New Mexico car or bicycle accident, the aggressive New Mexico personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm can ensure your case is as strong as possible when presented to a judge or jury for consideration. Our experienced New Mexico injury attorneys will take every strategic step available to increase your chances of being fairly compensated for your claim. Call the New Mexico accident attorneys at the Fine Law Firm at (585) 989-3463 or sign up using our online contact form and schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Determines Car Accident Involving Medical Professional Is Not a “Medical Malpractice” Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2016.
State Supreme Court Finds Plaintiff Is Not Entitled to Relief Due to Recreational Use Statute, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 4, 2016.