Tuesday, July 03, 2007

S.C. Supreme Court upholds sanactions for failing to comply with discovery

In Enriquez v. SCDOC, a prisoner brought against SCDOC for allegedly failing to prevent a beating inflicted by other prisoners while he was incarcerated. On the second day of trial, during questioning by Enriquez’s counsel, a corrections officer revealed that he had filed an incident report following the altercation. The incident report had not been produced in discovery. Counsel requested a copy of the report which SCDOC then produced during a break in testimony along with other documents that had not been previously disclosed. After examining the documents, counsel moved for sanctions claiming that the new documents identified other witnesses and would have affected his evaluation of Enriquez’s case.
The trial judge found sanctions were appropriate and ordered SCDOC to pay $3,000 in attorney’s fees based on counsel’s representation of his hourly fee for two days of trial and long distance travel.

The Supreme Court affirmed. Pursuant to an earlier motion to compel, there was a standing order that SCDOC “promptly comply with discovery or [be] subject to sanctions.” The Court held that Rule 37(b) expressly provides for an award of sanctions for a party’s failure to obey a discovery order. Hence, the sanctions were affirmed.

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