Putting Civility Back in Civil Litigation

Salata v. Weyerhaeuser Co. | 13-3136

August 2014

Salata v. Weyerhaeuser Co. is a good reference next time you are faced with truly contumacious conduct by opposing counsel. In Salata, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss a case following the plaintiff’s repeated failures to comply with various discovery orders. The delays and dilatory tactics described were remarkable, including repeated failures to appear at court status hearings and to comply with motions to compel. The Court noted that a judge should exercise her right to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41 “sparingly” and only “when there is a clear record of delay or contumacious conduct, or when other less drastic sanctions have proven unavailingly” – then held that this was just such a case. The district court gave repeated extensions to discovery deadlines, defense counsel “reached out repeatedly” to plaintiff “and attempted to resolve outstanding discovery disputes without court intervention,” and despite these efforts, plaintiff’s counsel failed to comply with multiple discovery requests and deadline, justifying dismissal.