Methods of Gathering Evidence in Trucking Accident Cases: Destructive Testing

In trucking accident cases, the usual discussions regarding evidence gathering involve accident reconstruction, calculations of speed based on objective measures, and other aspects related to an auto collision. Sometimes, however, injuriess caused in truck accidents can be the result of falling objects or other events. straps.jpg

In one such case, recently decided in a Maryland federal court, Heckman v. RYDER TRUCK RENTAL, INC., Dist. Ct., D. Md. (2013), the plaintiff filed suit against a truck rental company and maker of the truck, when a door strap attached to one of the trucks broke, causing him personal injury.

In the course of discovery, the process of gathering evidence in preparation for trial, the plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the defendant provide him with additional door straps in order to test them, and this opinion dealt with the court’s ruling on the request.

In it, the court laid out the four factor balancing test for determining whether a motion to permit destructive testing should be granted. The test was created in a separate case, Mirchandani v. Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc.235 F.R.D. 611, 614 (2006).

In order to determine whether the motion should be granted, the court has to determine:

(1) Whether the proposed testing is reasonable, necessary, and relevant to proving the movant’s case; (2) Whether the non-movant’s ability to present evidence at trial will be hindered, or whether the non-movant will be prejudiced in some other way; (3) Whether there are any less prejudicial alternative methods of obtaining the evidence sought; and (4) Whether there are adequate safeguards to minimize the prejudice to the non-movant, particularly the non-movant’s ability to present evidence at trial.

In regards to the first factor, the court noted that the defendant had already provided the plaintiff with straps to perform whatever tests he wished. In fact, his expert witnesses had already formed their opinions, and had been deposed. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff had not provided any compelling basis for needing additional straps for testing. Additionally, the reopening of the discovery process to permit the additional testing would be prejudicial and costly to the defendants.

Regarding the third factor, the straps that were already provided and tested, and seemingly had provided the basis for the plaintiff’s expert opinions, were an alternative and less prejudicial method of getting the information regarding the straps.

Therefore, because producing the straps would have been burdensome and prejudicial to the defendants, and the plaintiff could not provide a sufficiently compelling reason to support the request, the motion was denied.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident that occurred in the Maryland or Washington D.C. areas, contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC today. You can reach us by calling 1-800-654-1949 or through this website, in order to schedule your initial complimentary consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Trucking Company’s Appeal Following Fatal Tractor Trailer-Pedestrian Accident, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 9, 2013
The Concept of Punitive Damages in Trucking Accident Cases, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 2, 2013

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