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Case shelved under Reasonableness

Sneaker Giant Holds Off Case Dismissal Over Discovery Misconduct

Adidas America, Inc. v. TRB Acquisitions LLC
D. Oregon October 5, 2018
Why This Case Is Important

Even with a long, hotly contested discovery process, the court’s discretion to dismiss a case for discovery misconduct when the harm is irreversible (i.e., relevant data is spoliated and cannot be recovered) will be considered among other factors.

Overview:

In this trademark infringement case, the defendants moved for case dismissal based on the plaintiffs’ perpetuation of a fraud on the court via “egregious discovery-related misconduct.”

The defendants contend that the following conduct by the plaintiffs should lead the court to grant their motion:

  • Their 30(b)(6) witness lied under oath
  • They destroyed relevant documents
  • They delayed producing relevant document
  • “The majority of Plaintiffs’ document production was an irrelevant document ‘dump’ that Plaintiffs admit they did not review for relevance…”
  • They produced relevant documents after the close of discovery

Plaintiffs contend that ultimately the defendants received all responsive documents, that the destroyed documents were deleted as the result of a routine document destruction policy, and that the plaintiffs did not realize that the evidence was relevant at the time.

Ruling:
  • Motion for Dismissal Not Granted. The district court ruled that there were not sufficient grounds for case dismissal under the court’s inherent powers or under Rule 37(d)(3).
  • No Intentional Misconduct. The court did not find evidence that the plaintiff “willfully deceived the court and engaged in conduct utterly inconsistent with the orderly administration of justice,” but inconsistencies in testimony could still be used for impeachment during trial.
  • No Failure to Appear for a Disposition. Under Rule 37(d)(3), the court may dismiss a case if a 30(b)(6) witness fails to appear for a deposition or respond to an interrogatory. In this case, even though the plaintiffs’ witness may have given incomplete responses, they did not meet the standard for dismissal under the rule.
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Legal Analysis
On Adidas America, Inc. v. TRB Acquisitions LLC
Nancy Patton, Esq., Senior Solutions Consultant, Exterro
BY
Nancy Patton, Esq., Senior Solutions Consultant, Exterro

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was based on allegations of e-discovery misconduct by Plaintiff. The motion was denied because it did not meet a five-factor test considered by the court. This shows that despite broad discretion to impose sanctions including case dismissal for poor e-discovery practices under the FRCPs, the courts may look to other legal analysis for their decision.

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