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Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Discovery Obligations

After a serious delay by the defendant in providing discovery, the district court granted plaintiff’s motion to strike the defendant’s answer and enter a default judgment. The district court found that the defendant continually mislead the plaintiff and the court regarding its discovery obligations and caused the case to be delayed for several years by doing so. “This Court gave [defendant] numerous opportunities to provide the requested documents, yet it chose to produce incomplete responses. . . . [Defendant] and [its counsel] affirmatively misled Plaintiffs — and more importantly, this Court — as to the production of documents and compliance with Court orders. . . . By failing to provide the discovery as ordered, [defendant] has prevented Plaintiffs from pursuing their claims and delayed this litigation for nearly seven years.”

The court considered lesser sanctions but concluded that a lesser sanction would not be appropriate given the conduct here. “[T]he Court notes that it has considered less severe sanctions. Specifically, the Court considered levying a fine against [defendant] and its counsel for the repeated misconduct. Given the procedural posture of this case, however, nothing short of default judgment would be sufficient. This matter has been pending [for 8 years] and [defendant] has taken every opportunity to delay these proceedings.”

The court found that it simply cold not trust the defendant after it (and its counsel’s) failed to respond in discovery and made misleading and inconsistent statements. “Moreover at this point, any discovery provided by [defendant] cannot be trusted as a complete response. Plaintiffs demonstrated numerous inconsistencies between discovery previously provided by [defendant] and documents obtained by Plaintiffs through other means. Additionally, [defendant’s] own acts and testimony revealed that discovery provided by it is unreliable and incredible. Time after time [defendant] has ignored the Court’s orders. Thus, the severe sanction of default is warranted.”

Ocean Innovations, Inc., et. al. v. Quarterberth, Inc., et. al., 1-03-cv-00913 (N.D. Ohio April 18, 2011).

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