A recent decision out of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal underscores the importance of requests for surveillance tapes – a piece of evidence that could prove invaluable in a criminal attack case. The case, Osmulski v. Oldsmar Fine Wine, Inc., was a slip and fall case where evidence of the fall was automatically deleted from the cameras and therefore was not available for discovery. The plaintiff’s attorneys sought sanctions for spoliation of evidence. The court denied any sanctions and held that as a threshold requirement a written request to preserve the tapes should have been made. Without such request the defendant was under no duty to preserve the evidence.
Criminal attack cases, particularly in the premises liability realm, may occur in the presence of surveillance cameras. Video evidence could prove invaluable to the whereabouts and exact circumstances of the attack. Counsel should make a request for such video evidence as soon as possible following retention.