When you have a case pending before the court, the last thing you want to do is frustrate a judge and get reprimanded or even sanctioned for discovery abuse. Cooperating with the discovery process can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful, but it’s an important part of the legal process. What is discovery abuse and why is it a problem?
The Importance of Discovery
Discovery is part of the litigation process where each party shares relevant documents, facts, testimony, and more with the other side. The goal is to ensure that, going into litigation, both sides are fully aware of the position of the opposing party and are prepared to argue questions of fact and law. Surprise new information at trial could quickly lead to an unfair trial when the party receiving the surprise is not prepared to deal with the new information. Cases should be decided on the merits of the case after a fair hearing and questioning of the facts and witnesses on both sides.
Of course, discovery often leads to settlement as information comes to light that supports the case or highlights other issues. Especially in business litigation, businesses don’t want their details shared publically and may rather settle than answer discovery requests.
Types of Discovery Abuse
to produce documents that are requested by the other side is the most common
type of abuse. While there are situations where you can fight production or
limit the information produced, this should be discussed with your business
litigation attorney. In these cases, you produce as much as you can and respond
to the discovery request with your specific objection. Objections include
information that is not relevant, that is privileged, and in some cases that is
costly to produce.
- Refusing to cooperate with depositions. Depositions are an important part of the discovery process as they give each party a chance to ask witnesses questions under oath. However, if you don’t make yourself, your employees, or other important witnesses reasonably available to the other party, it could lead to discovery abuse.
Consequences of Discovery Abuse
Parties who engage in discovery abuse can be reprimanded by the court, held in contempt, and even sanctioned. Sanctions can range from the cost of attorney’s fees for the opposing party to a fine for every day that they are out of compliance. These costs can add up quickly. Penalties can be imposed against parties that are not cooperating and also against attorneys and law firms that are causing problems.
Discovery is a process that you will need to work through. If you’re involved in real estate or business litigation, the team from Dunn Law Firm can talk to you about what type of discovery you’re likely to face and the best way to protect sensitive information. To discuss your case, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.