Gabriel Koloszar, Paulo Aguilar, and two friends were driving home Labor Day weekend 2002 when the U-Haul trailer they were pulling caused their Ford Explorer to flip and roll off the side of the freeway. Both Koloszar and Aguilar were severely injured in the accident and required multiple surgeries. The two were left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Koloszar and Aguilar proceeded to sue U-Haul citing that the trailer they had rented had a worn tire that suddenly deflated causing the Explorer to veer left. After months of attempts made by Koloszar and Aguilar’s lawyers to examine the trailer’s parts, U-Haul finally reported that the parts had gone missing. The company stated in court documents that a former employee had stolen the tire and rims. Unfortunately, this was not the first time U-Haul had lost evidence pivotal in a suit against the company.
Over the last 20 years, U-Haul has been sued more than 10,000 times. Out of those suits, the Los Angeles Times found 11 instances where U-Haul had lost, altered, or discarded important evidence. In some cases, U-Haul scrapped or repaired the damaged parts despite court orders to keep the evidence preserved. U-Haul defends its practices stating that it has strengthened its evidence protection policy in recent years; however, they did not provide a copy of that policy when it was requested by the Times.
Koloszar and Aguilar’s lawyers stated that the missing evidence was “convenient.” Citing past cases where the company had lost important evidence, Koloszar and Aguilar’s lawyers asked the Kern County Superior Court Judge Louis P. Etcheverry to punish U-Haul. The Judge cited U-Haul with extreme negligence and said he would impose sanctions before the trial. With the threat of trial sanctions, U-Haul decided to settle with Koloszar and Aguilar one week before trial was to begin.