This case stemmed from a heavy impact, head on, fatal collision between Defendant's commercial truck and Decedent's personal vehicle. Plaintiff, the surviving husband, brought a wrongful death claim against Defendant for the death of his wife of 36 years. At the scene, Defendant told investigating officer that the collision occurred when he was momentarily distracted and allowed his vehicle to cross over into decedent's lane. Decedent was declared dead at the scene. Defendant admitted that he was taking medication prior to the accident, but did not submit to drug and alcohol testing following the accident.
Plaintiff was able to establish that pursuant to Department of Transportation and California Regulations, Defendant was required to submit to drug and alcohol testing. However, when Defendant appeared for his drug test, Defendant claimed to be unable to complete the test "due to medical condition." No drug test was ever completed by Defendant or his employer. Plaintiff contended that this conduct evidenced a consciousness of guilt and Defendant's failure to submit to a legally required drug test constituted spoliation of evidence. Plaintiff asserted that there may have been a basis upon which to claim punitive damages, as a basis upon which to seek evidentiary sanctions for Defendant's spoliation of evidence.
Plaintiff and decedent had been married for 36 years. Plaintiff and his wife were best friends and lifelong partners. They had no children and instead had chosen to walk through life, hand in hand, experiencing the wonders and hardships of life together. Over the years, decedent and Plaintiff's bond grew deeper and stronger as they embarked on many journeys together, challenging and supporting one another in achieving their dreams. The loss of decedent's love, companionship, society, comfort, guidance, advice, and moral support, measured over the 20 year life expectancy of decedent, as well as the aggravated liability were the focus of the damages in this case.
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