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Civil Practice – Discovery Abuses – Sanctions – Pleadings Struck – Financial Records

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//May 3, 2023

Civil Practice – Discovery Abuses – Sanctions – Pleadings Struck – Financial Records

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//May 3, 2023

In this discovery dispute that began in 2012, in finding that the defendant-Appellants “engaged in a deliberate pattern of discovery abuse,” the circuit court described the many times Appellants missed discovery response deadlines; failed to fully comply with motions to compel; represented to the court they would cooperate in discovery, but then failed to follow through; and failed to pay past monetary sanctions. The circuit court found not only was Appellants’ non-compliance with its June 18/August 1, 2019, orders willful, but it was also likely a tactic “to delay a case on the eve of trial” in gross indifference to plaintiff’s rights. The record supports these findings, and the harsh sanction of dismissing Appellants’ pleadings was not unreasonable.

We affirm the circuit court’s order sanctioning Appellants and striking their pleadings.

Furthermore, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion or exceed its authority in ordering Appellants to execute authorization for the release of their banking and accounting records. Because plaintiff asked for punitive damages, Appellants’ financial documents through 2019 were relevant under Rule 26, SCRCP. In addition, although the banking and accounting documents were in the custody of Appellants’ bank and accountant, they were Appellants’ documents and therefore were within the legal control of Appellants. Finally, due to the evolving discovery posture of the case, the circuit court’s June 18/August 1, 2019, orders did not improperly overrule another circuit court’s order in the same case.

Innovative Waste Management, Inc. v. Crest Energy Partners GP, LLC (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-013-23, 8 pp.) (Per Curiam) Appealed from Dorchester County Circuit Court (Maité Murphy, J.) David Marvel for appellants; Patrick Aulton Chisum, William Gruenloh, Brian Ross Holmes, Frederick John Jekel and Thomas Francis Drazan for respondent. South Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)

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