It appears that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will be left alone in its fight to avoid a $2.7 million discovery sanction. A former Goodyear coordinating counsel and a lawyer with the Fennemore Craig firm, who were hit with a $2.7 million discovery sanction have settled with the family injured in a motor home crash. The discovery issue is on appeal to set to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Goodyear will now have to make its case in the U.S. Supreme Court alone.
The settlements came just weeks after Goodyear and the lawyers secured certiorari of a massive discovery fraud order against the company, a local Goodyear lawyer at Fennemore Craig, and Musnuff – a one-time former national litigation coordinator. The three Defendants had challenged a split Ninth Circuit decision in favor of members of the Haeger family, who were seriously injured when a tire on their motor home blew, resulting in a lawsuit in 2005 against Goodyear.
In 2010, just before trial, the Haegers and Goodyear settled the underlying case. More than a year later, the family saw an article about testing that Goodyear had done on its tires that wasn’t produced under a discovery request for all testing related to the tire model. The family then filed a motion for sanctions. The district court judge subsequently found that Goodyear and its lawyers “engaged in repeated and deliberate attempts” to frustrate the case by keeping the testing information out of court. The judge ordered the Defendants to pay all the Haegers’ legal fees and costs incurred after Goodyear served responses to an initial discovery request, totaling $2.7 million. A Ninth Circuit panel last year agree with the trial court’s finding of bad faith and affirmed the court’s authority to impose the sanction.
In its May petition to the Supreme Court, Goodyear argued that its due process rights were violated when it was hit with what it called a criminal sanction long after the case concluded, and one untethered from the underlying conduct. The U.S. Supreme Court limited review to an alleged circuit split on the requirement for a direct connection between a litigant’s conduct and a compensatory sanction. The settlements of the discovery dispute include an agreement that the settling Defendants withdraw their U.S. Supreme Court petitions. Goodyear had 30 days to appeal the settlements and the tire manufacture has stated its intention to continue its battle in the U.S. Supreme Court.
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