The extreme sanction of case termination is available when a party obstructs and fails to participate meaningfully in discovery. The defendants in Epson Corp., et al v. Kravchuk, et al, recently learned this lesson against discovery misconduct the hard way. Nos. 18-15124 & 18-15245 (9th Cir. Dec. 27, 2019) (mem. op.).
Seiko Epson Corporation brought suit against multiple individuals for trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, and other claims related to nearly $15 million in unauthorized sales of Epson printer cartridges by the defendants and their related companies. Despite the extensive sales volume of counterfeit goods that the defendants enjoyed, they repeatedly failed to meaningfully participate in litigation in even the most basic ways.
The defendants’ obstructionism was severe. They failed to produce discovery, failed to appear in court, violated various court orders, failed on multiple occasions to appear for a deposition, and failed to respond to basic discovery requests. Despite repeated warnings from the magistrate judge that case-terminating sanctions were a possibility, the defendants’ behavior continued. The magistrate judge commented that in 18 years as a judge, she had “never encountered th[is] level of obstructionism.” Id.