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Supreme Court Upholds Dismissal of Complaint As Sanction for Failure to Comply With Discovery Order

In Synecology Partners, L3C v. Business RunTime, Inc., et al., 2016 VT 29 (Mar. 4, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint as a sanction for repeated failure to comply with discovery requests.

Issue: The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint as a discovery sanction.

Holding: The trial court has discretion to impose sanctions under V.R.C.P. 37 for failure to obey a discovery order. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing the complaint. Plaintiff Synecology willfully failed to provide emails relevant to the merits of its claims and misrepresented the existence of those emails to the trial court. The Court held that, in this situation, there were sufficient warnings to the plaintiff that dismissal may occur, and did not resolve the question of whether, under other circumstances, a warning prior to dismissal may be required.

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