Impact of Perjured Testimony & Abusive Litigation Tactics

As before, I close the year with a post that might make a good New Year resolution. For 2015: avoid being involved in cases that get dismissed for perjured testimony and abusive litigation practices. It came up in Huntley v. City of Carlin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113573 (D. Nev. 2014).

Defendants assert that, in order to support his claim for damages, Huntley falsely claimed that his shoulder was injured during the handcuffing incident. Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss seeking dismissal of this action as a sanction for Huntley’s perjured testimony and discovery responses falsely denying the existence of preexisting medical conditions, which forms the basis for his claim for damages. Through his false and deceptive discovery response, Defendants urge that Huntley sought to prevent them from obtaining records and information which he knew would effectively destroy his claim.

“There are two sources of authority under which a district court can sanction a party who has provided falsified testimony: (1) the inherent power of federal courts to levy sanctions in response to abusive litigation practices; and (2) the availability of sanctions under Rule 37 where there has been flagrant, bad faith disregard of discovery duties.” The court utilized its inherent power and did not analyze Rule 37. It concluded “the evidence clearly demonstrates that Huntley deliberately provided false testimony in an effort to thwart the discovery of evidence that would undermine his claims of injury” and dismissed the case with prejudice.

What did Huntley do to merit dismissal? He alleged a police officer injured his shoulder during an arrest. Huntley repeatedly denied ever having pre-existing problems with the shoulder. He refused to release medical records from before his accident. He then testified at deposition he had no problems before the event alleged in the complaint. I give kudos to the defense counsel for hard work because they identified plaintiff’s medical providers from before the accident and subpoenaed their records. The records unambiguously documented the plaintiff was in fact suffering from these exact same problems during the time leading to the event.

The evidence before the Court clearly demonstrates that Huntley intentionally offered incomplete and inaccurate discovery responses and proffered blatantly perjured testimony on issues that are central to his claim. He wrongfully refused to disclose prior incidents in which he suffered pain and injury to his right shoulder and he adamantly denied the fact that he suffered from virtually the same symptoms and conditions prior to the incident in question. When confronted with his own transgressions, Huntley maintained that he did nothing wrong.

As such, the Court finds that this is quintessentially a case in which a litigant’s abusive litigation practices threatens the orderly administration of justice. Huntley willfully engaged in deceptive conduct that undermined the integrity of the very judicial process that he invoked to vindicate his rights. Finally, there is no indication that, if given a second chance, Huntley would do anything differently.