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Burden of Proof?

Discussion in 'Expert Witnesses & Investigators' started by Macgawd, Feb 8, 2008.

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  1. Macgawd

    Macgawd Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have a civil lawsuit pending against my neighbor for an illegal fence they erected on the property line.

    While this case has been pending, there was an accident involving our vehicle, which popped out of gear while getting the mail, and the van careened into the fence, damaging it. Now, our neighbor is claiming in a counter-suit that we "intentionally and maliciously" damaged the fence, and that it is our responsibility to prove otherwise.

    Is this right? I thought that the burden of proof was on the party making the claim? If not, how are we supposed to prove that it was an accident, and not intentional?

    Thanks,

    Michael
     
  2. Duranie

    Duranie Moderator

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    Even if the damage was accidental, you still are probably responsible. Your neighbor has to show negligence, which won't be hard if your vehicle popped out of gear. You were not in control of it and probably liable for any damages the vehicle caused.
     
  3. Macgawd

    Macgawd Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Duranie,

    Negligence isn't in question here, and we are fully prepared to compensate them for the material damage done. However, my neighbors are seeking punitive damages based on the claim of "malicious intent", i.e., we intentionally sent the car out of control into the fence, with the express purpose of doing harm. In their counter-claim, they state that it is we who must provide proof that our actions were not malicious or intentional--I don't see how the burden of proof is on us, or how one could even prove such a thing.

    Michael
     
  4. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    The burden of proof is not on you.

    Sounds like to me your neighbor is full of hot air on punitive damages.

    You are, though, liable for actual damages.
     
  5. Scooterdog

    Scooterdog New Member

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    Your neighbor must think we still burn people at the state for simple accusations. You have no burdon to show anything on that part.

    The other party must prove their counter claim. You can motion to dismiss if you like.

    Something to keep in mind is "the clean hands doctorin". Had the fence not been errected illegally to begin with, the fvan wouldn't have hit it. I don't think they have much of a case. They could have tried just going for damages, but to make the claim that you "intentionally and maliciously" hit the fence with the van is going to be damn tough to prove.

    Hell, you might want to file another action for damage to the van for the illegal fence being there in the first place!
     

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