After the staff privileges of physician Barry Lew (plaintiff) were terminated, Lew sued Kona State Hospital and several individuals (defendants), alleging violations of federal due process, unfair trade practices under state law, and defamation. Lew and his attorney received notice that Lew was to appear for a deposition on October 7, 1983. Because Lew did not have local counsel at the time, he and his attorney concluded that his attendance at the deposition would be pointless. Neither Lew nor his attorney informed defendants of this determination, however. Lew simply failed to appear at the scheduled deposition. On the basis of that failure, defendants moved to dismiss Lew’s complaint. The district court denied their motion on October 31, 1983, but ordered Lew to pay defendants’ attorney fees and costs incurred relating to the deposition. Approximately one week later, the court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all of Lew’s claims. Lew appealed both decisions.