King County, Washington Judge Imposes Discovery Sanctions

Late last week, in Belanich v. Employers Fire Ins. Co., Cause No. 12-2-14368-4 SEA, Judge Julie Spector of the King County Superior Court ordered that an insurance company pay significant sanctions for discovery violations following a hearing on a Fisons Motion.  In support of the sanctions, the Order entered by Judge Spector cited “significant delays and omissions” that “were willful and dilatory,” noted that the “Court will not tolerate the type of behavior,” and indicated “that there is a question as to whether the representations and testimony made by the defenses and their counsel in response to the Fisons Motions are true.”  Given those findings, the court ordered that, at the insurance company’s cost, a computer forensic expert shall image the hard drives at issue to assess the insurance company’s prior discovery responses.  The insurance company was also ordered to identify all vendors used during discovery so the files provided to the vendors may be examined.  The results of those examinations will then be compared to prior production in order to assess the insurance company’s compliance with prior discovery orders.

The court also ordered that the insurance company will be subject to monetary sanctions, but that the amount of the sanction will be entered after the computer forensic analysis is complete.  In addition, the insurance company was ordered to pay attorney fees—the amount of which will be determined after the completion of the forensic analysis, all fees incurred by the special discovery master that entered the discovery order at issue, and all of the costs associated with additional depositions necessitated by the discovery violations.

Insurance Law 360 also covered the order here (subscription needed).  We previously discussed this matter in the Insurance Coverage Blog in an entry dated December 17, 2013.  We will attempt to follow-up with any additional developments in the matter.  The case is currently scheduled for trial on April 7, 2014.

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