Court sanctions attorney and client $9600.00 for inadequate discovery
When HTC Global Services sued GoWeb Business, LLC for defamation, the Defendant and its attorney failed to file timely and adequate answers to discovery. During a deposition, they walked out rather than continuing testimony, allegedly because of misbehavior by the plaintiff attorney that was not documented on the record. The trial judge awarded sanctions against the lawyer and client and then added on additional sanctions when the attorney disputed the content of an order entered by the Court. The attorney who was sanctioned appealed the judges' decision as an abuse of discretion, but it was upheld in the Court of Appeals.
The higher court judges found no abuse of discretion by the trial judge. It pointed out that the partial transcript of the depostion provided to the court contained no evidence of misconduct at the deposition, that the Defendants had not presented to the trial judge its claims that the Plaintiff was equally guilty of non-responsive discovery, and that the sanctioned attorney's argument about the trial judge's original ruling lacked a basis in fact.
Attorneys owe their clients a duty of "zealous representation," but sometimes balancing that duty with the attorney's obligations under the Court Rules becomes a source of trouble.