I have always been a strong advocate that you should be awarded sanctions if you had to bring a motion to get the relief you were entitled to even if the other side complied prior to the hearing on the motion. However in the case of Evilsizor v. Sweeney (2014) 230 CA4th 1304, the First District Court of Appeal had an interesting take on the issue.
Somewhere in the back of your mind you are aware that discovery and Motions for Summary Judgment deadlines are looming. Yet, you really don’t pay attention to them until they are upon us usually around day 45 when you start trying to schedule experts. That is when you realize there are not enough hours in the day and days in the week. Unless you have a case that is a simple slip and fall or a fender bender, the last 100 days before trial can be daunting. Throw in a Motion for Summary Judgment or Summary Adjudication into the mix and you’re swamped. Then there is the ultimate question you ask yourself, “When am I going to find time to prepare for trial.”
The Code of Civil Procedure timeline regarding deadlines for expert disclosure, close of discovery and the last day discovery motions can be heard is demonstrated below. Seeing it scheduled in black and white is kind of scary. Continue Reading Discovery Plan Part 4 — The Year Before Trial
During my seminar on “Sanctions Denied,” I was asked how do you handle discovery abuse when it is part of a deep pocket defendant’s litigation strategy. His story went like this:
Plaintiff’s counsel had been to court several times on motions to compel documents and motions to compel further documents from an international Corporation. The court’s most recent order was that the documents were to be served two weeks before the corporation’s person most knowledgeable depositions were to take place in London. Instead defendant produced 30,000 documents on a CD less than 24 hours before the London depositions were to begin. Plaintiff counsel went forward with the depositions as trial was in a month and his client could not afford for the lawyer to go to London another time. Plaintiff counsel expressed his frustrations that even though the court gave him $6000 in sanctions he was severely handicapped in his preparation for the depositions and it impacted on what evidence he could obtain before trial.
Even though this is an extreme example, it is not unusual. The real question is what could he have done and what should you do if you find yourself in this situation.
When a Judge or Discovery Referee makes a comprise in a a discovery dispute–splitting the baby–I cringe. This goes against the philosophy of the Discovery Act and current case law. There are rules in discovery and attorneys are expected to play by those rules. When one side plays by the rules and asks the court to enforce those rules, it becomes disheartening to that party when the Judge or Discovery Referee splits the baby instead of making the tough call.
Recently, I heard a lawyer bemoan the fact that instead of granting the motion to compel further responses to requests for documents documents which he clearly had won, the judge ordered that the responding party to turn over all its declared experts files prior to the declared expert’s deposition instead. Apparently the judge was persuaded by the opposition’s position that to provide a further response and gather all the responsive documents would take too much time away from their preparation of the impending trial. This order was wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. Continue Reading A Judge Needs to Call Balls and Strikes on Discovery Motions
In most personal injury actions the plaintiff is served with a Notice for an Independent Medical Examination. It has become so commonplace that no one really thinks twice about the demand. However, there are a few requirements to this discovery device that defendant must comply with in order to perfect the request. Continue Reading I’ve Got This Doctor You Gotta See!
I recently received an e-mail from a pro-per who asked me
“ Is there any chance you can send me a link to an example “meet & confer” declaration form”
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Judicial Council form where you could check the boxes on such a form and be done with it? The judge should just assume that you did what needed to be done and grant your motion. Isn’t that the way it should be? I mean, really, aren’t we all professionals and if you say that you met and conferred in good faith your word should be enough. Right? Not quite…
As every lawyer is aware, a party may propound more than 35 specially prepared interrogatories or requests for admissions simply by attaching a Declaration of Necessity (pdf) pursuant to C.C.P. §2030.040 (pdf) and C.C.P. §2033.040 (pdf) stating the reasons why they need more. See C.C.P. §2030.050 (pdf) and C.C.P. §2033.050 (pdf). However, when you receive more than 35 specially prepared interrogatories or requests for admissions, you should ask yourself the question “IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?” Continue Reading “I DECLARE, IT IS NECESSARY”
You are within fifty days of trial and you are in receipt of defendant’s expert witness disclosure. She has three experts and you have three experts. All six of them need to be deposed in less than 35 days and you haven’t yet sent out a deposition notice. You pick up the phone and meet and confer with opposing counsel to select dates. During the conversation the attorney for the defendant states very adamantly
My expert will not be ready to testify until your expert testifies. Besides you are the plaintiff and you have to go first!
Heard this before? I have and there are some significant problems with defense counsel’s position.
When I started this blog I asked fellow attorneys what issues they would like me to address. I received this response from a lawyer in San Francisco:
Key problem – judges that won’t crack down on parties that lodge bogus objections and don’t answer interrogs, and object to discovery demands that are straight forward. Amount of sanctions awarded is usually pitiful.
Nine years ago, in the middle of a Deposition, defense counsel called plaintiff counsel a “Bitch.” Plaintiff counsel immediately filed a motion for a Discovery Referee and I was appointed. The court ordered that I sit in on all the depositions and attend the site inspection. All communication including the scheduling of discovery was to be done through me.
When I look back on this case, I realize that the moment defense counsel used the word “Bitch” it became the turning point of the case. These two well-respected attorneys’ hostility toward one another drove the case. There were no more professional courtesies and the parties took extreme positions in their settlement negotiations. The case eventually went through a lengthy bench trial and appeal process that lasted years before plaintiff recovered an eight-figure judgement.