May 19, 2015 Top Story

Severe Attorney Sanction Imposed For Asking Wrong Question

Court cites attorney lack of credibility justifying $1 million sanction for causing mistrial

Robert Denny

Citing defense counsel’s lack of credibility, a trial court sanctioned an attorney nearly $1 million for deliberately violating a pretrial order by eliciting prohibited testimony regarding the plaintiff’s smoking history that led to a mistrial. Sutch v. Roxborough Memorial Hospital. The case is currently pending on appeal, but ABA Section of Litigation leaders advise that attorneys can avoid similar sanctions by maintaining credibility and promptly admitting when they have made a mistake.

Expert Violates in Limine Order

The lawsuit brought in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas involved allegations of medical malpractice for failure to timely diagnose lung cancer. Before trial, the court ordered that evidence regarding the decedent’s smoking history was inadmissible.

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