One of the parties to an underlying child custody dispute filed a petition for damages based on the intentional spoliation of potentially relevant video recordings.

The defendant argued, and the trial court held, that the action was prescribed, because it was filed more than one year after the trial of the custody matter, wherein the videos could have been useful.

The Louisiana Fourth Circuit, however, reversed: “Prescription does not begin to run until the plaintiff sustains actual (not merely speculative) damages. During the trial of the Domestic Action, whether Ms. Ritter would suffer actual damages from the loss of the evidence was wholly speculative. It was only when the underlying Domestic Action was resolved by judgment that the damage would have became demonstrable. Hence, we agree with courts in other states which have concluded that a spoliation claim does not begin to accrue until the plaintiff has sustained actual harm, which occurs when the underlying claim has been resolved.”


Ritter v. Loraso, 2017-0517 (La. App. 4th Cir. 12/22/2017), 2017 WL 6547103.