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Saturday, December 31, 2011


Full judgment, including for interest and attorneys’ fees, was obtained recently for a Roger C. Wilson client in a commercial litigation in Cobb County Superior Court, by court order, before trial, as a sanction for violation of discovery rules by the opposing party.

The Wilson client was the plaintiff in the case, Willson v. Tselios, et al. (no relation between client and attorney), case no. 10-1-3929-49.  The client had contracted to sell restaurant equipment to a commercial buyer under an installment purchase arrangement as a part of the disposition of a Sandy Springs restaurant of the Wilson client.  The defendant-opponent, the buyer, failed or refused to make full payments under the contract even after taking possession of all the equipment.  Only after the initiation of the litigation did the buyer raise allegations of lien-type encumbrances of the equipment, which allegations Wilson and his client rebutted.

The defendant-opponent repeatedly failed to properly respond to discovery requests (formal demands for information and documents about the case and defenses) submitted by Wilson on behalf of his client.  After first obtaining orders from the Court requiring the defendant to fully respond to those discovery requests, Wilson ultimately moved the Court to enter judgment in favor of his client as a sanction when the defendant continually failed to provide such responses.

After the presentation of written briefs and oral arguments, the Court granted Wilson’s motion and entered judgment in favor of the Wilson client for the full amount demanded by the client in the case.  In addition the Court granted Wilson’s request to add pre-judgment interest to the award, running from the time of the initial breach of the underlying contract.  Post-judgment interest generally is available as a matter of right, but pre-judgment interest is not and is more difficult to obtain.  Additionally, the Court awarded attorneys’ fees to the Wilson client in connection with the efforts to obtain the requested discovery.

Although courts have considerable leeway in fashioning remedies for violations of discovery rules, it is unusual to obtain an entry of final judgment against a litigant on this basis.  That remedy generally is reserved for cases of very substantial violations by a litigant.  Such was the case here, where the defendant repeatedly failed to respond to orders obtained from the Court specifically regarding discovery and related matters.

Defendants sometimes adopt such delaying tactics in order to increase the time and costs to a plaintiff of obtaining any judgment, hoping to dilute the plaintiff's resources and heart for the litigation before a trial is reached.  A great advantage of obtaining judgment on the basis and at the stage of litigation obtained by the Wilson client in this case is that this mitigates such delays and costs.  Occasionally, as in this case, the client is thereby able to obtain the full benefits sought in the litigation even without the expenses normally entailed by a trial of the case.

Roger C. Wilson represents companies and individuals in litigation in all state and federal courts in Georgia.  He has represented many clients in commercial and other civil litigation, both as plaintiffs and as defendants.

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