Distinctive Iron, LLC v. RJM Const., LLC v. Vulcraft Sales Corp.
Project Details
Project Description

Bill Celebrezze successfully defended a construction company and two of its employees in a subrogation lawsuit. The plaintiff-insurer alleged that the defendant-framer had failed to install the roof truss system of a hog barn in compliance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions, thereby contributing to the damage sustained by the hog barn during a high wind event in July 2019. The defendant-framer served a Third-Party Complaint seeking contribution and indemnification from Bill's clients, who had been hired to provide extra labor in connection with the roof truss installation. After discovery, Bill moved for summary judgment on the grounds that neither the plaintiff-insurer nor the defendant-framer identified any breach of duty by his clients, no evidence exists that his clients proximately caused the damage sustained by the hog barn, and the plaintiff-insurer’s claims should be dismissed as a spoliation sanction due to its failure to preserve the original roof truss system for inspection or analysis.

The District Court granted Bill's motion for summary judgment, along with those of all other defendants, on the primary ground that the plaintiff-insurer had spoliated critical evidence without providing notice and an opportunity to inspect the evidence to the defendants. The District Court considered sanctions short of dismissal, but concluded that no other sanction would cure the prejudice caused by the plaintiff-insurer’s spoliation of evidence.