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Friday, March 8, 2013

What Happens When a Plaintiff Deliberately Fails to Comply with Discovery?

The answer to this question is highlighted in the New Jersey Appellate Division's recent decision in Fik-Rymarkiewicz v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. 
The basic facts are as follows:
Plaintiff Ewa Fik-Rymarkiewicz, Ph.D., a molecular biologist, filed a complaint alleging employment discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49 against her former employer, defendant University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and supervisors Drs. Rameshwar Sharma and Teresa Duda. 
The plaintiff was deposed four times and at her second and third depositions she refused to answer various questions or provide discovery. 
At a conference to resolve plaintiff's unwillingness to answer questions, the lower court judge orally directed a full exploration of all aspects of the emotional-harm claim and selected March 29, 2010, to complete her deposition. However, plaintiff's counsel canceled the deposition due to plaintiff's busy schedule.
Defendant then moved to dismiss the complaint. Ultimately judge dismissed the complaint with prejudice - meaning plaintiff could never bring the action again.
The Appellate Division upheld the dismissal because Plaintiff "demonstrated contumacious behavior, ignored court orders, and obstructed discovery of information directly relevant to her claim of emotional distress."
If you fail to cooperate with your attorney or fail to comply with the sometimes outrages demands of the party that you are litigating against, you risk having a judge dismiss your case with prejudice (forever.)
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