In the May/June 2017 issue of The National Association of Legal Assistant’s Facts & Findings (F&F) magazine, our own Diane Rice contributed the feature “A Tale of Discovery Abuse”. In her article, Diane discusses Discovery Abuse, an issue often faced by legal assistants which causes delayed rulings and higher-than-anticipated litigation costs for all parties involved. In her F&F contribution, Diane draws on over 20 years of paralegal experience and reviews the 1993 case Malautea v. Suzuki Motor Company.
“In a perfect litigation world, a legal assistant’s job in gathering discovery documents would be easy. We would never have to worry about whether we had all the critical pieces to the puzzle. Our opponents would honorably produce them as requested, we would do the same, there would be no need for discovery hearings and disputes, no need for sanctions by the court, and we’d all just let the chips fall where they may.
Yeah, well…good luck with that…
We don’t live in that world, and our paths sometimes cross with colleagues whose goal seems to be to make the truth as elusive as possible. When caught in the act, the consequences to the perpetrator of discovery abuse are dire, as demonstrated in the classic discovery abuse case of Malautea v. Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd., 987 F.2d 1536, 1542 (11th Circuit, 1993). The Court’s ruling in this case was appealed but affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
Like Erin Brockovich, we’d all love to be the hero who finds the “smoking gun” documents that bring down the law on the bad guys, and in Malautea, such a document indeed turned up. But what proved the undoing of the defense was their refusal to properly respond to discovery requests after being ordered to do so by the Court. The judge’s reaction to the discovery abuse makes this an especially interesting study.”
You can read Diane’s full article below. NALA members can review the magazine in its entirety here.