September 6, 1995: Bishop v. Gen. Motors Corp.

Case No. CIV-94-286-B (E.D. Okla.)

The plaintiff in Bishop died from burn injuries he sustained when the side saddle fuel tank on his c/k pickup truck exploded upon impact. In the Bishop litigation, General Motors repeatedly violated the court's orders relating to the production of exhibits prior to trial. After GM refused for months to produce and identify all of its trial exhibits, the court ordered all parties to submit exhibits to the court for a court inspection prior to trial. General Motors, however, failed to produce and identify its exhibits at the inspection in full compliance with the court's mandate. Moreover, after the exhibit inspection, General Motors removed its exhibits from the courthouse without permission. This removal infuriated the court, because General Motors had essentially destroyed the evidence of its own non-compliance: "This problem [not knowing the full extent of General Motors' non-compliance] is exacerbated by GM's removal of the original exhibits from the courthouse after the Clerk of the Court and Bishop's counsel determined that the exhibits were wholly inadequate and incomplete for trial." The court held that General Motors' misconduct was intentional and sanctioned General Motors by prohibiting it from introducing any exhibits at trial.

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