The Importance of Complying with Discovery Obligations and the Benefits of Working with Skilled California Counsel

Sometimes, your case may fail because you simply didn’t have enough proof to back up your claims. Other times, civil lawsuits fail because the plaintiff decides to go forward without counsel and fails to meet court-ordered discovery or other procedural obligations. If you think you’ve been a victim of wrongful termination or discrimination at work, you shouldn’t go forward alone but instead contact an experienced California employment attorney.

An example of how a case can go wrong was the wrongful termination lawsuit launched by Dymos, a Southern California truck driver who worked for a transportation company. After the employer fired Dymos, the trucker sued the employer for wrongful termination. His lawsuit alleged several forms of damages he suffered, including “humiliation, emotional distress, mental anguish, physical anguish, and physical pain.”

When the trucker began his lawsuit, he had an attorney who represented him. At some point, the trucker and his lawyer parted ways. What the trucker probably should have done is seek out new counsel to represent him in his pursuit of damages. He could have even asked the court for a delay in his case. Courts will sometimes give parties extra time when their attorneys have withdrawn, and the party is in the process of securing new counsel.

The trucker didn’t do that, though. What he did was a very clear example of “what not to do.” After his original attorney withdrew, he “effectively abandoned the case.” Additionally, the employer asked to take the trucker’s deposition, but he repeatedly did not attend. The same was true for an independent medical examination the defense sought. Depositions and independent medical examinations are very common parts of the discovery process in many personal injury cases. The judge warned him several times of his need to sit for the deposition and to submit to the exam. The court even issued an order demanding his attendance. Still, the trucker did not attend. The closest the man got was showing up for an independent medical exam appointment but leaving after eight minutes, asserting that he was experiencing a medical emergency. He never came back for the exam. He also once briefly appeared at the employer’s attorneys’ office for a deposition, but he disappeared without warning before it began. As a result, the trial judge threw out the trucker’s case entirely, meaning that he lost his opportunity to obtain compensation before he even made it to trial.

After the trial judge dismissed the case, the trucker tried to revive it. He appealed, arguing to the Court of Appeal that his non-attendance should be excused and that his case shouldn’t have been thrown out. The appeals court was not persuaded. One of the most severe missteps you can make is to fail to meet your court-ordered obligations despite being fully aware of those obligations and the importance of your compliance. The fact that the trucker briefly appeared at the medical office (for the independent medical exam) and at defense counsel’s office (for the deposition) was adequate proof, according to the appeals court, of the trucker’s awareness of his obligations. Despite this awareness and in spite of a clear court order demanding his performance, the employee still didn’t show. In situations like this, dismissal is the proper result. Other less severe alternatives would not have properly relieved the employer’s harm. Imposing monetary sanctions against the trucker wouldn’t have given the employer the information it needed and sought to obtain through the exam and deposition. Additionally, an “evidence sanction is not effective where the party withholding the evidence is not the party who wishes to use it.”

Your civil case can go awry for many reasons besides things related to the facts of your case. Making sure that you meet all of your discovery and other procedural obligations is essential and is an area in which having representation from knowledgeable counsel can help. The Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch have been working hard for many years to achieve successful results for our clients. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Employment Contracts, Arbitration Clauses, and Your California Wrongful Termination Lawsuit, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Jan. 25, 2018

California Medical Office Worker Revives Wrongful Termination Claim After Winning Appeal Challenging Employer’s Alleged Acts of Age Discrimination, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Sept. 15, 2017