Miller estate retains attorney for August Tryon fire

Published 10:00 pm Monday, December 21, 2015

The estate of Trey Miller has retained an attorney who sent a letter to the Town of Tryon giving notice of legal representation and requesting the town preserve evidence.

“Please respectfully be informed that our firm has been retained by the Estate of Trey J. Miller to investigate potential wrongful death claims arising from the tragic death of Mr. Trey Miller in a fire occurring on Aug. 22, 2015 of the residence previously located at 950 East Howard Street in Tryon, North Carolina,” states a letter from Ron L. Moore, P.A. “Based on our preliminary investigation, the Town of Tryon was involved in either the operational response to the subject fire, performed an investigation and/or engaged in activities or communications regarding relevant aspects of the fire incident.”

The five-page letter was dated Dec. 9 from Moore, out of Asheville. As of last week, no lawsuit had been filed.

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Moore asked that the town forward the letter to legal counsel for an appropriate response to requests regarding evidence preservation and spoliation prevention.

Other local entities, including Polk County, were also sent notice regarding evidence preservation.

Miller, 32, died Aug. 22 in a home that caught fire around 3 a.m. on East Howard Street. The family of Miller has expressed concern regarding the response and other factors in the case. An autopsy was performed on Miller, with the results still pending from the state medical examiner’s office.

“You have a legal duty to preserve all materials, documents and data (paper and electronically stored information, normally referred to as ESI) and other evidence that is or may be relevant to the cause of the subject fire, an agency response to said fire and any and all respective investigations or communications regarding same, which is in your possession, custody or control,” said Moore’s letter. “For this reason, it is essential that you immediately preserve and retain all such potentially relevant evidence.”

Moore asked that the town not alter, delete, destroy or modify relevant or potentially relevant materials, documents or data related generally or specifically to several matters, including communications with other agencies, photographs, videos and audio recordings, recorded statements, emails, memoranda, letters and cell phone text messages.

“Most important, pursuant to this notice we respectfully demand that you immediately cease any automatic deletions of data pursuant to its duty to ensure this does alter, delete, destroy or otherwise modify potentially relevant materials, documents or data,” Moore’s letter said. “To reiterate, the procedures described in this notice should override any routine retention or destruction policies that you otherwise apply.”