The St. Louis personal injury defense firm, Sandberg, Phoenix and von Gontard, was at the center of a case in St. Clair County (Belleveille), Illinois that resulted in imposition of drastic sanctions.
SPvG represented Safariland, the manufacture of a ballistic shield used by a Belleville police officer. Sgt. Jon Brough was shot in the face by a shotgun five years ago and claimed that the ballistic shield he was using at the time was defectively designed. Sft. Brough lost his eyesight, sense of smell and was disfigured.
After a lawsuit is filed, the attorneys engage in what is known as discovery. This discovery is conducted under oath, and can consist of requests for documents, written questions, called interrogatories, and recorded question sessions, called depositions. The entire discovery process is based upon each party providing truthful answers and admissions to proper questions and requests. That is where the process went astray in Sgt. Brough’s suit.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Safariland’s attorneys, SPvG, engaged in “deliberate or intentional, systematic, dishonest conduct.” When Judge Lloyd Cueto learned of the misconduct, he took the drastic step of striking Safariland’s pleadings. When a defendant’s pleadings are stricken, the result is that the allegations of the plaintiff would then be submitted to a jury as true. In effect, a jury would be left with little choice but to find for the plaintiff. It can’t be emphasized enough that this is a drastic remedy that is only used in the most egregious instances of misconduct.
Immediately after the sanction was imposed, rather than seeking to appeal the judge’s decision, Safariland settled for a “substantial amount of money.” Our congratulations goes out to our colleague Bruce Cook who represented Sgt. Brough for a well-won battle.