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District Court Awards Punitive Damages Based in Part on Discovery Abuse, Denies Attorneys' Fees for Inadequate Proof

Christ v. Cormick, 2008 WL 4889127 (D. Del. Nov. 10, 2008)

In this opinion the Court sanctioned the defendant’s conduct, including discovery abuse, by awarding punitive damages. The Court first entered default judgment against the defendant after his “repeated dilatory discovery conduct and his refusal to appear for deposition.” The plaintiff sought punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages, and the Court found that the entry of default did not preclude awarding punitive damages. The failure to appear for deposition was “but one example of the kind of willful conduct that requires an award of punitive damages.” The plaintiff also sought attorneys’ fees and expenses both for the Delaware action and proceedings in South Africa. The Court, however, denied this claim, finding that an award for fees in the South African litigation was unsupported by law, and the summary information submitted for fees for the Delaware proceeding was inadequate as a matter of law because it did not allow the Court to make a thorough analysis of the time records. 



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