The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently affirmed a court order sanctioning Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for misconduct during the discovery process of a lawsuit. The litigation alleged that Goodyear manufactured a defective and unsafe tire. In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit held that the sanctions imposed on Goodyear and two lawyers were “entirely lawful and appropriate” in light of the court’s finding that they had participated in a “years-long course of misconduct” in the defective tire litigation. The sanctions resulted in a $2.7 million dollar fine against the parties.
The misconduct that resulted in this penalty included a pattern of delays in handing over relevant safety tests conducted on the allegedly defective tire. In general, a party to a lawsuit must act in good faith during the discovery process, and must produce to the other side relevant materials. In this instance, the attorneys involved refused to acknowledge the existence of the relevant testing documents for months, despite the plaintiffs’ best efforts to obtain the relevant documents. Hopefully, the sanctions imposed will send a message to big corporations seeking to bully and unreasonably impede plaintiffs during the discovery process. For the record, the manufacture of the tire central to the lawsuit has since been discontinued.
The attorneys at Swartz & Lynch have decades of experience in dealing with uncooperative and overly contentious corporations. We will seek every available avenue and resource in forcing defendants to “play fair” during a lawsuit. If you have been injured by a defective product or by the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch LLP. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.