A motion for terminating sanctions in California is the topic of this blog post.
This blog post will discuss obtaining an order of the Court, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.290 for failure to respond to several orders of the Court to respond to an interrogatory or interrogatories although the basic principles that are discussed apply to any other authorized method of written discovery.
A terminating sanction is an extremely harsh remedy that can result in the Court striking the answer of a defendant, or the complaint of a plaintiff and entering a default and even a default judgment against them.
Because filing a motion for terminating sanctions is an extremely harsh remedy they should only be filed when you can show a persistent failure of a party to comply with a court order or orders to respond to discovery.
Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2023.010(d), (g), and (i), “failing to respond or to submit to authorized methods of discovery”, “disobeying a court order to provide discovery”, and “failing to confer” are all misuses of the discovery process.
California Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.290(c) states, in relevant part, “If a party to whom interrogatories are directed fails to serve a timely response, the following rules apply: (c) …If a party then fails to obey an order compelling answers, the court may make those orders that are just, including the imposition of an issue sanction, an evidence sanction, or a terminating sanction.”
Courts including the United States Supreme Court and a California Court of Appeal have stated in published decisions that failing to respond to discovery creates a presumption that the resisting party is admitting a lack of merit in their claim or defense.
Terminating sanctions are appropriate when a chronic pattern of delay or evasiveness by the defaulting party is egregious enough to warrant denial of a trial on the merits. Electronic Funds Solutions, LLC v Murphy (2005) 134 Cal. App. 4th 1161, 1183 (in that case the Court ruled that terminating sanctions were appropriate when the defendants’ “persistent failure to comply with the court’s discovery orders resulted in a discovery stay and continuance of the trial”).
And terminating sanctions have been deemed proper if the authority of the court cannot be vindicated by the use of a less severe sanction.
In fact, in one recent California Court of Appeal published decision an abuse of discretion was found where the trial court had not ordered any terminating sanctions during the trial even though it was aware that defendant had still not complied with previous discovery orders. In Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal. App. 4th 967, 994, the Court ruled that the trial court abused its discretion by not ordering terminating sanctions during trial when it learned that defendant still had failed to comply with discovery orders and had failed to produce documents that should have been produced months earlier.
Although terminating sanctions are an extremely harsh remedy, in the right situation where the other party has demonstrated a persistent failure to comply with a court order to respond to discovery, they are extremely useful.
An experienced litigation attorney can evaluate your situation and determine whether filing a motion for terminating sanctions is appropriate in your case. Contact attorney Nathan Mubasher for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
Schedule a free consultation today with attorney Nathan Mubasher.
Call (800) 691-2721 and let’s talk about your options.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR NATHAN MUBASHER:
Law Offices of Nathan Mubasher
2621 Green River Rd, Ste 105 PMB 403
Corona, CA 92882
tel 1-800-691-2721 | fax 1-310-356-3660
Thank you for reading. I hope I could have been educational as I endeavor to provide my knowledge as a free public service. Please note that all the materials and information on this blog are general analyses made available for the public’s general informational purposes only. These analyses are not in any way intended to serve as specific legal advice to be applied in your particular situation. Although I am an attorney, absent a signed retention and engagement letter, I am not your attorney. There are no exceptions to this rule. Moreover, you shall not rely on the information I am providing you, as it is only for your general knowledge and educational purposes, since this information would likely change based on any additional facts. Thus the transmission and receipt of information on this blog by anyone does not form or constitute an attorney-client relationship. My knowledge of laws is limited to California. Anyone receiving any information on this blog should not act upon the information provided without first obtaining the services of professional legal counsel licensed in their respective jurisdiction. Best of luck.