LAW 521-002 – Civil Procedure I

Sanctions


Courts can give sanctions for pleadings or motions that are for an improper purpose or are not supported. Such sanctions are limited to what is sufficient to "deter" and can include striking claims, penalty fees, or paying costs or attorney fees.

There is a 21-day safe harbor for amending or withdrawing the improper pleading/motion, unless the sanctions were initiated by the courts.

Rule 11.

Courts can grant "appropriate sanction", including attorney fees, for discovery abuses. Rule 26(g).

Courts may order very serious sanctions for violating a court order, such as treating a fact as established, barring a claim or defense, dismissing a claim, or finding a party in contempt. Rule 37(b).

Spoliation

Spoliation is the destruction or material alteration of evidence or to the failure to preserve property for another's use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation.

If electronically stored information that should have been preserved in the anticipation or conduct of litigation is lost because a party failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it, and it cannot be restored or replaced through additional discovery, the court:

  1. upon finding prejudice to another party from loss of the information, may order measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice; or
  2. only upon finding that the party acted with the intent to deprive another party of the information’s use in the litigation may:
    1. presume that the lost information was unfavorable to the party;
    2. instruct the jury that it may or must presume the information was unfavorable to the party; or
    3. dismiss the action or enter a default judgment.

Rule 37(d).

Courts have an inherent power to appropriate sanction for detailed finding of bad faith.