Appellate Reverses Trial Court’s Denial of Defendants’ Motion for Discovery Sanctions
Residential Funding Corp. v. DeGeorge Fin. Corp., 306 F.3d 99 (2d. Cir. 2002). The defendants appeal the trial court's denial of defendants' motion for sanctions, specifically in the form of an adverse jury instruction, for the plaintiff's failure to produce email in time for trial. The Second Circuit held that where a party breaches a discovery obligation by failing to produce evidence, the trial court has broad discretion in fashioning an appropriate sanction, including the discretion to delay the start of a trial, to declare a mistrial, or to issue an adverse inference instruction. Sanctions may be imposed where a party has not only acted in bad faith or grossly negligent, but also through ordinary negligence. Vacating the trial court's sanctions order, the circuit court reversed and remanded with instructions for a renewed hearing on discovery sanctions.