When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the lawsuit goes through different legal phases before it hits the courtroom for trial. This is because of the nature of personal injury lawsuit. A very important phase of a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is the pre-trial discovery phase.
During the phase, parties involved in the lawsuit will make request for certain evidential materials from opposing parties. If the judge finds the material requested to be relevant to the case, he will rule on the request. He will order that the materials be made available and he will also add a deadline to it. Any party that fails to comply with such orders will be sanctioned.
The sanctions issued for violation of pre-trial discovery vary widely. It depends on the state where the case is filed and the degree of the violation. The court could dismiss a personal injury case if the plaintiff is found to be deliberately withholding requested evidence from the defendant. It has happened several times in Florida and it could happen again.
On the flip side of the coin, if the defendant decides to deliberately withhold evidence from the plaintiff’s side, it can be seen as a sign of guilt. It is not wrong for the court to prevent the introduction of other evidence because of that. The court can also decide to impose a fine on the defendant for withholding important evidence. The court does not just impose any arbitrary amount as fine.
The amount should be enough to cover the amount spent by the plaintiff because of the defendant’s action or inaction. This is why either party requires the services of a personal injury attorney. There is a recent court case handled by U.S Supreme Court that underscores this principle.
A Goodyear tire blew out on the plaintiffs’ motorhome and they filed a product liability lawsuit against Goodyear, the manufacturer of the tire. At the discovery phase, the plaintiffs, through their personal injury attorney, requested the results of the tests that the company conducted on the tire.
Goodyear lied that no test was conducted on the tire after dilly-dallying for a while. So, the case was settled for a certain amount of money. Some months after the case was settled, it was discovered that Goodyear actually conducted tests on the tire but deliberately withheld the results of the test. A fine of $2.7 million was slammed on them. Since a higher court could overturn the fine, a contingent fine of $2 million was imposed. Supreme Court overturned both fines. Instead, Goodyear was ordered to pay only compensatory damages to the plaintiffs to compensate them for the amount they spent because of the defendant’s bad faith.