Collisson & Kaplan v. Hartunian

21 Cal. App. 4th 1611, 26 Cal. Rptr. 2d 786 (1994)

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Collisson & Kaplan v. Hartunian

California Court of Appeal
21 Cal. App. 4th 1611, 26 Cal. Rptr. 2d 786 (1994)

Facts

On October 18, 1991, Collisson & Kaplan (attorneys) (plaintiffs) filed a complaint against Steven Hartunian and Sumitomo Tower, Ltd. (clients) (defendants) for nonpayment of legal fees. For the next eight months, the clients failed to timely and properly respond to the attorneys’ multiple discovery requests— despite the attorneys’ repeated efforts to get compliance. And despite being financially sanctioned, the clients also failed to comply with the trial court’s order to provide the requested discovery, and the discovery that was provided was incomplete, evasive, and quibbling. The trial court eventually ordered the clients’ answer stricken, resulting in a default judgment for the attorneys that the court declined to set aside on a motion for reconsideration. The clients appealed and argued that the trial court abused its discretion imposing the dispositive sanction because their discovery responses were appropriate, it was their “first effort” at drafting such responses, and the sanction was punitive and contrary to law and the spirit of the Civil Discovery Act of 1986.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Masterson, J.)

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