CITY DEFENDANTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SANCTIONED FOR FAILURE TO PRESERVE PRE-ACCIDENT POLICE COMMUNICATIONS IN THIS POLICE-VEHICLE TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE BECAUSE THE CITY DEFENDANTS WERE AWARE THEY WOULD PROBABLY ASSERT AN EMERGENCY DEFENSE (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the City defendants should have been sanctioned for spoliation of evidence. The action stemmed from a traffic accident involving a police vehicle and the city defendants were put on notice they would assert an emergency defense by the notice of claim. But the pre-accident police communications were not preserved:
Defendants had an obligation to preserve the pre-accident audio recordings at the time they were destroyed because the Police Department (NYPD) internal report and plaintiff’s notice of claim, which attached the public police accident report, put defendants on notice that they would likely assert an emergency operation defense. Therefore, pre-accident audio communication between the dispatcher and the NYPD vehicle or officers involved in the accident should have been preserved in case it was needed for future litigation … . Under the circumstances presented, the imposition of an adverse inference charge would be an appropriate sanction … . Sanchez v City of New York, 2020 NY Slip Op 01970, First Dept 3-19-20