Nevada Supreme Court Affirms Sanction of Striking Liability Defense Because of Discovery Abuse

 The Nevada Supreme Court has affirmed a trial judge order that struck a defendant's ability to argue liability, limiting it to contesting compensatory damages.

 

In Bahena v. Goodyear,  the trial judge struck the defendant's answer as to liability after it failed to follow prior court orders concerning several discovery matters, including the failure to produce a witness for a deposition. The court agreed with the trial judge that "repeated discovery delays attributed to Goodyear were such that continuing the trial date to allow discovery was not the appropriate remedy for Bahena since the prejudice was extreme and inappropriate."  The Supreme Court explained that the trial judge "noted that the Bahena plaintiffs included a 14-year old who had been in a persistent vegetative state for the past two years together will the estates of three dead plaintiffs"  and that "since the trial was scheduled to commence [shortly after the discovery deadline] Goodyear knew full well that not responding to discovery in good faith would require the trial date to be vacated"  because "there could have been open questions as to the authenticity of approximately 74,000 documents that were the subject" of a prior court order.

 In affirming the trial judge's decision, the Nevada Supreme Court noted that the trial judge had prepared nine pages of carefully written findings of fact an conclusions of law analyzing the relevant factors, concluding that the degree of willfulness by Goodyear was "extreme" and "totally untenable and unjustified" and that the "responses to [p]laintiff's' interrogatories are nothing short of appalling."

The decision is reported at 235 P.3d 592 (Nev. 2010).

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