If a person or party files a personal injury lawsuit against someone or another entity, the case will move through several different stages until it ultimately goes to trial. An essential and contentious phase of a personal injury lawsuit occurs during the pre-trial discovery phase.
During this phase, the parties are making requests for certain types of evidence from the other party. It is only possible for one party to request evidence that is relevant to the case or that may give rise to finding other relevant information. After a request for evidence is made, the judge will make a ruling on the request. If it is ruled that the material requested is released, then the party that has the evidence is required – by law – to provide it. If the party does not comply, then it may result in sanctions.
What are Sanctions?
The sanctions related to violating a pre-trial discovery will vary, based on the type and the severity of the violation. It is not completely unheard of for a court to dismiss a person’s case if they withhold evidence from the other party. If evidence is withheld, then the court may prevent other evidence from being introduced, or they may impose a fine. However, the fine that is imposed is only able to be for the actual fees the plaintiff spent because of the defendant’s purposeful bad faith.
Here you can learn about a recent case seen in the U.S. Supreme Court that helps to illustrate this concept.
The Case’s Facts
The plaintiff in this particular case wound up filing a product liability lawsuit against the Goodyear Company after one of their tires blew on the individual’s motorhome. During the course of the discovery process, the plaintiff requested any results from tests that the company had done on the tire in question. Goodyear took too much time to respond to the request and wound up admitting that there were no tests done. Before the case went to trail, it was settled.
Several months after the settlement was agreed upon, it was discovered that tests had been done on the tire and that Goodyear intentionally hid the results. At this point, the plaintiffs asked the court to impose discovery sanctions, which wound up being a fine of $2.7 million, which was what the plaintiff had to spend on legal fees.
Reversing of Both Fines by the Supreme Court
Because neither party complied with the law, the Supreme Court reversed the imposed fines. The court gave the explanation that the plaintiffs should only receive compensation for the costs that were related to the bad faith. As a result, the lower court had to calculate the costs that were actually incurred by the plaintiffs.
If you are injured in an accident and believe the other party is acting in bad faith, then it is a good idea to hire a personal injury attorney. They can help protect your rights. More information about these cases can be found by contacting the attorneys at Fetterman & Associates by calling 561-845-2510.