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Imagine asking for a reprint of your birth certificate only to be told that the original document had been eaten by termites. Certainly no such scenario could ever occur in reality, after all, important documents are protected by responsible notaries who are legally obliged to provide necessary documents upon request. Actually, you would not believe how often such scenarios occur in real life. This blog has mentioned past isolated cases involving termite destruction to paper money and historically significant documents, but the problem of termite damage to government documents is far more significant than anyone wants to admit.

 

How often have you heard a child claim that their dog had eaten their homework? In reality, probably not too often, but this excuse has become a cliche in America. Most kids know that such an excuse would not go over well, but a similar excuse is sometimes put forth by government appointed notaries who lose important and sensitive documents. At least one notary used this very excuse after being blamed for losing government documents. However, instead of a dog, this notary claimed that termites had eaten the absent document. This incident occurred in 2015 when an American Citizen, Nand Lal, requested a document after filing a formal request. Lal needed the document as evidence in a lawsuit concerning his property, and the document had been officially authenticated by a notary at the time of its filing. The notary responded by claiming that Lal had no legal right to view the government document. After complaining to the proper authorities, an investigation revealed that the notary eventually claimed that the document had been eaten by termites. After this incident, several legal proceedings commenced in order to determine if the notary was guilty of negligence due to the alleged termite-eaten document. The notary argued that the loss of the document had been an unavoidable “act of god”. However, the notary failed to notify the proper authorities of the termite-damaged document, and she was found liable for its loss. The judge presiding over the case also ruled that a notary can never use hungry termites as an excuse for a lost government document, and this ruling remains a legal precedent.

 

Have you ever lost an important possession to an aggressive termite infestation?

 

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