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Defendant who belatedly admits originally denied claims cannot avoid paying sanctions

In McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ'g Co.,  the same panel of judges who dismissed the plaintiff's discrimination claims for lack of proof also held that the lower court judge did not err in awarding McCarthy discovery sanctions.  The employer ultimately prevailed on the case in chief, but during the interim, it had denied for more than a year that the plaintiff would have been entitled to retirement medical benefits if her termination had occurred earlier.

The Defendant argued that since it ultimately located the documentary proof of McCarthy's previous entitlement to benefits, and since it then admitted this fact, it could not be sanctioned, even for a year's delay.  The trial judge and the Sixth Circuit both rejected this approach.  The higher court pointed out that the information sought "went to the heart of the plaintiff's [ultimately unsuccessful] case, therefore leaving it to the Court's discretion whether sanctions should be awarded.

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