Washington Supreme Court Upholds $8 Million Dollar Default Judgment For Discovery Abuse

Hyundai learned that “trial courts need not tolerate deliberate and willful discovery abuse.”  Let this be a lesson to lawyers of all stripes that withholding evidence is not good for your clients.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated an $8 million default judgment against Hyundai Motor Co. in a lawsuit over the backward collapse of a front seat in a 1997 crash that left a man paralyzed.

In a 7-2 ruling, the high court reversed the Court of Appeals, which had overturned a trial court's finding for Jesse Magana of Vancouver.

The justices said the South Korean automaker deliberately withheld documentation from Magana's lawyers for too long concerning other crashes in which front seats collapsed backward.

"Trial courts need not tolerate deliberate and willful discovery abuse," wrote the majority, led by Justice Richard Sanders. "This result appropriately compensates the other party, punishes Hyundai, and hopefully educates and deters others so inclined."

Source: Wash. court reinstates $8M award against Hyundai