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Case Blurb: Leon; Dismissal as a sanction, 9th Circuit

Posted by rjbiii on September 4, 2007

Dismissal is an available sanction when “a party has engaged deliberately in deceptive practices that undermine the integrity of judicial proceedings” because “courts have inherent power to dismiss an action when a party has willfully deceived the court and engaged in conduct utterly inconsistent with the orderly administration of justice.
Before imposing the harsh sanction of dismissal…the district court should consider the following factors:

  • the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation;
  • the court’s need to manage its dockets;
  • the risk of prejudice to the party seeking sanctions;
  • the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and
  • the availability of less drastic sanctions.

While the district court need not make explicit findings regarding each of the five factors, a finding of “willfulness, fault, or bad faith” is required for dismissal to be proper. The prejudice inquiry [of the five factor test] “looks to whether the spoiling party’s actions impaired the non-spoiling party’s ability to go to trial or threatened to interfere with the rightful decision of the case.
In reviewing whether the district court properly considered lesser sanctions prior to dismissing Leon’s case, [the appeals court] examines:

  • Whether the district court explicitly discussed the feasibility of less drastic sanctions and explained why such alternate sanctions would be inappropriate;
  • Whether the district court implemented alternative sanctions before ordering dismissal; and
  • Whether the district court warned the party of the possibility of dismissal before ordering dismissal.

Leon v. IDX Systems Corp., 464 F.3d 951 (9th Cir. 2006).

Posted in 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Dismissal of Case, Duty to Produce, Judge A. Wallace Tashima, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Leon; Willful Spoliation defined

Posted by rjbiii on August 28, 2007

A party’s destruction of evidence qualifies as willful spoliation if the party has “some notice that the documents were potentially relevant to the litigation before they were destroyed. Leon v. IDX Systems Corp., 464 F.3d 951 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing United States v. Kitsap Physicians Serv., 314 F.3d 995, 1001 (9th Cir. 2002)).

Posted in 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Document Retention, Duty to Preserve, Judge A. Wallace Tashima | Leave a Comment »