No doubt jealous of all the attention our beloved Judge Shira Scheindlin receives, two days ago U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Judge Neil M. Gorsuch issued an order in Lee v. Max International, LLC affirming a terminating sanction in discovery. Woo hoo!
In one fell swoop, Judge Gorsuch does the following:
1) Establishes a "3 Strikes and You're Out!" rule:
How many times can a litigant ignore his discovery obligations before his misconduct catches up with him? The plaintiffs in this case failed to produce documents in response to a discovery request. Then they proceeded to violate not one but two judicial orders compelling production of the requested materials.
After patiently affording the plaintiffs chance after chance, the district court eventually found the intransigence intolerable and dismissed the case as sanction. We affirm. Our justice system has a strong preference for resolving cases on their merits whenever possible, but no one... should count on more than three chances to make good a discovery obligation. (emphasis added)
2) Enlightens us on the karma of discovery:
[T]here is such thing as discovery karma. Discovery misconduct often may be seen as tactically advantageous at first. But just as our good and bad deeds eventually tend to catch up with us, so do discovery machinations.
3) Establishes the "gimlet eye" standard of review:
We view challenges to a district court’s discovery sanctions order with a gimlet eye.
The lesson: Don't mess with District Judges and Magistrates in discovery.
Read the coverage at Above the Law where ALL YOUR DOCS ARE BELONG TO US.
<!--Thanks to flickr user Andrew Scott for the Gimlet Eye pic (to the left).-->