December 3, 2001: Dize v. DaimlerChrysler Corp.

No. 00-C-4666-5 (Gwinnett Co., Ga. St. Ct.)

Despite prior Court orders compelling Chrysler to allow an unobstructed database search and to produce withheld documents, Chrysler engaged in pattern discovery abuse and refused to comply with the Court's orders. As a result, in a December 3, 2001 order, the Court entered default in response to what it deemed Chrysler's "repeated, deliberate, willful disobedience to this Court's multiple orders, the magnitude of and nature of the evidence concealed, and the obvious prejudice to plaintiffs ." Among other acts of discovery abuse, Chrysler had violated agreements reached at the meet and confer, withheld responsive evidence of other similar incidents even after the Court entered an order finding that Chrysler had "willfully withheld" such evidence, withheld responsive test videos in violation of Court order, and refused to fully comply with a Court directive for database searches (see above discussion regarding September 21, 2001 order in Dize) because it "misunderstood the scope of the Court's rulings." The Court (referring to Chrysler as "DC") concluded that the automaker's misconduct "made a fair trial impossible":

The Court carefully considered whether to impose lesser sanctions. The Court has concluded, however, that nothing short of default would address (1) the magnitude and pattern of the defiance by DC to the Court's orders, (2) the number of orders DC violated, (3) the volume of the evidence withheld, (4) the importance of that evidence to the proof of plaintiffs' claims and to rebutting DC's defenses, (5) the affront to the power of the Court reflected in DC's misconduct, (6) the fact that DC was still withholding much of the evidence at issue at the time of the hearing, and (7) finally and most importantly, the palpable unfairness that such misconduct has already visited on the imminent trial of this case.

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