Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case illustrating what can happen if a party fails to comply with the pre-trial discovery process. While the decision was issued by a South Carolina court, the same principles apply in Maryland motorcycle accidents.
The case arose from a motorcycle accident that the plaintiff claimed was caused by the defendant’s negligence. After the case was filed, the parties each requested discovery from the other side. In the pre-trial discovery process, a party is able to request relevant information that it believes may be in the possession of the opposing side. Once a judge approves a discovery request, the party who has the information is required to pass it. A failure to pass the ordered discovery can result in various penalties, up to and including the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim.
In this case, the defendant requested certain income tax documents from the plaintiff. The judge granted the defendant’s request and ordered that the documents be passed by December 17, 2015. About a year after the deadline, the defendant filed a motion to compel discovery with the court. The court granted the motion and also ordered that the plaintiff pay some of the defendant’s attorney’s fees that related to the prolonged litigation over the documentation.
The plaintiff, however, continued to ignore the court’s order. The plaintiff did not explain why she was refusing to comply with the order. The judge determined that the plaintiff’s withholding of the documents was in bad faith and dismissed her claim against the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.
The Case Is Affirmed on Appeal
The appellate court agreed that the plaintiff’s failure to produce the ordered discovery was sufficient reason to dismiss her case. The court explained that the court gave the plaintiff plenty of time to procure the requested documents and that obtaining them was not especially difficult. That being the case, the court held that the lower court’s finding that the plaintiff was acting in bad faith was a reasonable finding.
Additionally, the court was not concerned with the severity of the sanction imposed in this case. The court reasoned that the lower court initially used a lesser sanction – the imposition of attorney’s fees – but that the plaintiff’s failure to comply continued. As a result, the trial court’s decision to implement escalating sanctions was a reasonable one.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience assisting victims with pursuing the compensation they deserve. We represent clients across the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. areas in all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland motorcycle accidents. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case today.
More Blog Posts:
Lingering and Delayed-Onset Injuries Following Maryland Motorcycle Accidents, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 26, 2017.
Insurance Disputes in Maryland Bicycle Accidents, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 5, 2017.