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Archive for the ‘Default Judgment’ Category

Eighth Circuit Remands Case and Reassigns Judge who Imposed Sanctions

Posted by rjbiii on July 8, 2009

“That’s it. I’m done. I’m granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss this case for systematic abuse of the discovery process. [Defense counsel], I direct you to prepare a proposed order with everything you’ve put on that presentation. I’ll refine it and slick it up. [Plaintiff] has abused this court, has misled you, has lied in his deposition. It’s obvious he’s lying about that e-mail. This case is gone. I’m dismissing it. What a disgrace to the legal system in the Western District of Missouri. Prepare the proposed order. We’re done. We are done, done, done. What a disgrace. It’s not your fault, it’s your client. He’s coached, he’s ducked, and he’s hid documents. We’re done. Be in recess.”

An outburst from the bench from a Judge reaching the end of his patience has led the Circuit Court to remand the case, reassign the judge presiding over the matter, and vacate the dismissal that that judge had imposed. The Circuit Court did, however, express some empathy for their exasperated colleague while doing so:

The Eighth Circuit vacated the order of dismissal, but not without expressing sympathy for the judge’s position, noting that the parties “provoked” him. The majority was critical of both the plaintiffs’ “evasive” behavior and the defendants’ “fanning the flames of the district court’s discontent.”

The Circuit Court’s opinion may be found here (pdf).

Posted in 8th Circuit, Articles, Default Judgment, Sanctions | Leave a Comment »

Case Summary: Bunnell; Terminating Sanctions and Default Judgment appropriate for Willful, Systemic Spoliation

Posted by rjbiii on March 9, 2008

In this copyright infringement case, the court held that terminating sanctions and the entry of default judgment in favor of the requesting party was appropriate the court found:

  • User forum postings had been systematically reviewed for the purpose of modifying or deleting those which referred to acts associated with copyright infringement;
  • Directory headings where copyrighted content was stored was changed from specific names of television shows to more generalized names (e.g., “TV-Unsorted”).
  • Evidence suggested that [Producing Party] may have failed to produce previously existing, unaltered versions of these directories.
  • Producing Party failed to produce, and claimed not to possess, the full IP addresses related to clients downloading works protected by copyright laws, where evidence suggested that the party did in fact have this information.
  • Producing party failed to produce names of forum moderators, as required.

Columbia Pictures Inc. v. Bunnell, No. 2:06-cv-01093 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 13, 2007) (Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Terminating Sanctions)

Posted in 9th Circuit, C.D. Cal, Case Summary, Default Judgment, Duty to Preserve, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, Sanctions, Spoliation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Hawaiian Airlines; Factors to Consider before Imposing a Default or Dismissal Sanction

Posted by rjbiii on November 13, 2007

A default or dismissal sanction can be imposed only based upon a finding of willfulness, fault, or bad faith. In addition, the court should consider: (1) the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court’s need to manage its dockets; (3) the risk of prejudice to the party seeking sanctions; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions.

A list of factors like this one “amounts to a way for a district judge to think about what to do, not a series of conditions precedent before the judge can do anything, and not a script for making what the district judge does appeal proof.”

In re Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., 2007 WL 3172642 (Bkrtcy. D.Hawaii October 30, 2007).

Posted in 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, D. Hawaii, Default Judgment, Dismissal of Case | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Summary: Tschirhart; Court grants a default judgment to plaintiff after finding defendant deliberately destroyed evidence

Posted by rjbiii on September 6, 2007

In a trial concerning copyright infringement by the user of peer-to-peer systems, the court granted plaintiff recording company a default judgment against defendant, concluding that defendant deliberately destroyed the evidence, music files that had resided on the hard drive of her computer, in bad faith. A forensics expert found that defendant had “wiped” the hard drive after notice of litigation and again after the court ordered defendant to produce the computer for a forensic examination. Defendant, while not disputing the deletion operations occurred, claimed that they occurred as a part of automated defragmentation operations. The court was not convinced. In addition to a finding of bad faith, the court also found that the three elements required by the Fifth Circuit to dismiss the case had been established. Specifically, the court concluded that: (1) the destruction of evidence was attributable to the client and not the attorney; (2) the destruction caused substantial prejudice to the opposing party; and (3) a less drastic sanction was not appropriate. The plaintiff’s motion for terminating sanctions was granted, while defendant was ordered to pay the amount of the costs and fees relating to the filing of the motion. Arista Records LLC v. Tschirhart, 241 F.R.D. 462 (W.D. Tex. 2006).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Summary, Computer Forensics, Data Management, Default Judgment, Document Retention, Duty to Preserve, Judge Orlando L. Garcia, Sanctions, W.D. Tex. | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Napster C/R Litigation; Court discusses factors to consider for Default Judgement Sanction, 9th Circuit

Posted by rjbiii on September 6, 2007

When considering a default sanction in response to spoliation of evidence, the court must determine:

  • The existence of certain extraordinary circumstances;
  • The presence of willfulness, bad faith, or fault by the offending party;
  • The efficacy of lesser sanction; and
  • The nexus between the misconduct drawing the sanction and the matters in controversy in the case. In re Napster, Inc. Copyright Litigation, 462 F.Supp.2d 1060 (N. D. Cal. 2006) (citing Halaco Eng’g Co. v. Costle, 943 F.2d 976, 380 (9th Cir. 1988).
  • Additionally, the court may consider the prejudice to the moving party as an “optional” consideration where appropriate. In re Napster, Inc. Copyright Litigation, 462 F.Supp.2d 1060 (N. D. Cal. 2006) (citing Halaco Eng’g Co. v. Costle, 943 F.2d 976, 380 (9th Cir. 1988).

The multi-factor test is not “a mechanical means for determining what sanction is just, but rather “a way for a district judge to think about what to do. Id.
Extraordinary circumstances exist where there is a pattern of disregard for Court orders and deceptive litigation tactics that threaten to interfere with the rightful decision of a case. Id. (citing several cases).
Dismissal is warranted where…a party has engaged deliberately in deceptive practices that undermine the integrity of judicial proceedings. Id. (citing Annheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Natural Beverage Distributors, 709 F.2d 585, 591 (9th Cir. 1983)).
[T]he deliberate deception and irreparable loss of material evidence justifie[s] the sanction of dismissal. Id. (citing Wyle. V. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 709 F.2d 585, 591 (9th Cir. 1983)).

Posted in 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Default Judgment, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, N.D. Cal., Sanctions | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb; Quintus Corp.; Appropriateness of Default Judgment as Sanction

Posted by rjbiii on August 31, 2007

Judgment is [an] appropriate sanction where destruction of documents deprives adversary of critical evidence. In re Quintus Corp. v. Avaya, Inc., 353 B.R. 77 (Bkrtcy. D. Del. 2006) (citing Shepherd v. Am. Broad. Cos., F.3d 1469, 1479 (D.C. Cir. 1995)).

Posted in 3d Circuit, Bankruptcy Judge Mary A. Walrath, Case Blurbs, D. Del., Default Judgment, Duty to Preserve, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »