United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SANCTIONS FOR SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE (Doc. 14)
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a negligence case. Plaintiff Andrew Strong (Strong) is suing
defendant Passport Auto Logistics, LLC d/b/a Passport
Transport (Passport) claiming that it damaged the convertible
top of his 2006 Ferrari Spider F430 (Ferrari) while it was in
its custody. Strong's claim is grounded in state bailment
the Court is Passport's motion for summary judgment on
the grounds that Strong has no admissible evidence showing
Passport caused the damage. Also before the Court is
Passport's motion for sanctions for spoliation of
evidence on the grounds that Strong repaired the convertible
top before Passport was given the opportunity to inspect it,
thus preventing the ability to determine the cause of the
damage. For the reasons that follow, Passport's motion
for summary judgment will be granted and its motion for
sanctions will be denied.
material facts as gleaned from the parties' papers
Strong purchased the Ferrari in March of 2012 or 2013.
In August 2015, Strong participated in the Ferrari Club of
America International Annual Meet, which was held that year
in Monterey, California.
On July 28, 2015, Strong delivered the Ferrari to Cauley
Ferrari (Cauley), a dealership located in West Bloomfield
Cauley arranged for the Ferrari to be shipped to California
Passport loaded the Ferrari on August 3, 2015 at Cauley.
Passport delivered the Ferrari to its warehouse in Salinas,
California on August 8, 2015.
August 15, 2015 at approximately 5:00p.m., Strong arrived at
the warehouse in California and took possession of the
Ferrari. He did not observe any defects with the convertible
top at the time he picked it up.
drove the Ferrari to a Hilton Hotel in Monterey, California
the evening of August 15, 2015. He parked the Ferrari in an
outside parking lot at the Hilton Hotel overnight.
next morning at 10:00a.m., Strong attempted to engage the
convertible top; it would not open.
did not witness the loading of the Ferrari onto a Passport
trailer for shipping to California. Strong did not see the
unloading of the Ferrari from the Passport trailer after it
was delivered to the warehouse in California.
transported the Ferrari back to Cauley in Michigan at some
point in late August. On September 10, 2015, an employee from
Cauley emailed Strong about the Ferrari's top, stating it
was “not sure how this happened” and it
“does not occur naturally” and that he was
“not sure how the transport driver could have caused
this unless something interfered with the tonnea cover during
the opening/closing process causing the linkage to
bend.” Strong later stored the Ferrari for the winter
at Studio 47 in Columbus, Ohio, a warehouse facility which
also does repairs. On October 6, 2015, Strong directed Studio
47 to perform several repairs on the Ferrari, including
repairs to the convertible top. A document from the owner of
Studio 47, undated, regarding the condition of the top and
Upon taking delivery of Mr. Strongs 430 it was immediately
apparent that the convertible top boot cover was severely
misaligned. After further inspection it appeared that it had
been pushed toward to rear of the car while it was partially
open. This caused the cover to bow up in the center and
slightly bend the lift arms. There are areas that shown that
it made symmetrical contact on both sides of the leading edge
of the cover. We were able to make adjustments so the top is
functional but were unable to make the panel gaps correct. It
is my estimation that the lift arm mechanisms will need to be
replaced and the cover will need to be repaired or replaced.
As is takes factory diagnostic equipment to calibrate these
tops the work must be done at a recognized Ferrari repair
later took the Ferrari to Cauley for an inspection. On May
31, 2016, the same Cauley employee which first described the
convertible top emailed him about the inspection results,
stating in part:
we have inspected your convertible top damage and believe
that there must have been an incident where the tonneau boot
was trying to open but was blocked by something in it's
path of operation and we have found a few areas on the
tonneau lid that indicate that it has in fact impacted
something causing the mechanisms on the left and right side
to the tonneau lid have been bent out of proper position and
not allowing the tonneau lid to move open enough to allow the
convertible top to come out of the boot.
It also appears that the canvas on the convertible top may
have also been damage [sic] as a result of the softop trying
to come out when the tonneau lie was “not” in the
proper position and had ...