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Make Sure to Save a Defective Product

Think twice before you discard a defective product that has injured you. Keep the defective product, not only to enable you to prove that the defect existed but also to avoid being penalized by a court for preventing the product manufacturer from attempting to prove that there was no defect.

In one such case, two homeowners contacted their insurance carrier when a fire destroyed their home. The insurer investigated the fire and concluded that it was probably caused by a defective furnace. Once the insurer completed its investigation, it told the homeowners that they could proceed with rebuilding their home and that they could dispose of the defective furnace, which they did. Months later, the homeowners filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective furnace.

When the defendant manufacturer discovered that the homeowners had destroyed the furnace, it sought to have the lawsuit dismissed. The manufacturer argued that it could not disprove any defect without the furnace itself, which was a critical piece of evidence. The Illinois court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit.

In Illinois, a person who destroys a defective product--even before filing a lawsuit--faces a number of possible sanctions once the lawsuit is underway. Dismissal is only one of the penalties a court can impose, depending on the facts of each case. Other penalties short of dismissal may make it very difficult to prove a defect, such as barring the responsible party from introducing evidence of the product's defect or barring that party's expert testimony. When a potential plaintiff destroys such evidence, he gains an unfair advantage in later litigation when both parties are not allowed equal opportunities to view, examine, and in some cases test a product to determine the nature and cause of its defect.

When you suspect that a product will become the subject of a lawsuit, make sure that you take steps to keep it intact. If you tamper with it or destroy it, you may face consequences that will affect your ability to succeed in a lawsuit.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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