Facts: Petitioner Jesse Magana sued respondent Hyundai motor car manufacturer, and others, for injuries sustained in a car accident allegedly due to the car’s design defects. While Magana prevailed at trial, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case in part as to the issue of Hyundai’s liability. In compliance with an order by the trial court to update discovery and provide additional documents requested by Magana, Hyundai produced the documents with only two months remaining before retrial was set to begin. Magana moved for default judgment, arguing that Hyundai failed to comply with production requests, falsely answered interrogatories, willfully spoiled evidence of other similar incidents, and failed to produce documents related to rear impact crash tests. The Superior Court for Clark County entered a default judgment in favor of Magana as a sanction for Hyundai’s violation of discovery rules. Hyundai appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the default judgment was not warranted as a sanction for the discovery violation because Magana was not prejudiced in his ability to retry the case. The Supreme Court of Washington granted Magana’s petition for review.
Questions: Did the trial court abuse its discretion to grant default judgment against Hyundai as a discovery sanction?
Conclusion: Justice Sanders’ opinion for the Court held that Hyundai had the obligation not only to diligently and in good faith respond o Magana’s discovery efforts, but to also maintain a document retrieval system that would enable the corporation to respond to any passenger’s requests. The trial court did not abuse its discretion finding that Hyundai willfully violated the discovery rules because default judgment was based on reasonable grounds and substantial evidence in the record. Finding that the Court of Appeals erred in its decision, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the default judgment in favor of Magana.
Petitioner: Jesse Magana
(Counsel: Paul W. Whelan, Ray W. Kahler, Peter O’Neil, Alisa R. Brodkowitz, Derek J. Vanderwood, Michael E. Whitney, Charles K. Wiggins, and Kenneth W. Masters)
Respondent: Hyundai Motors America
(Counsel: Heath K. Cavanagh, Michael B. King, Gregory M. Miller, James E. Lobenz, and Douglas F. Foley)
- AWB Amicus
- Answer to Petition for Review
- Appellants Brief
- Color Appendix C to petition for review
- Follow Up Letter from Counsel
- Petition for Review
- Petitioner Magana's Answer to WDTL Amicus
- Petitioner's Answer to AWB Amicus
- Respondent Brief
- Respondents' Statement of Additional Authority
- Second Statement of Additional Authority
- Supplemental Brief of Petitioner
- Supplemental Brief of Respondents
- WDL Amicus
Argument: Thursday, January 22, 2009 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
Opinion: 167 Wn.2d 570 (2009)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.