Friday, February 3, 2006
Case Law Development: Court may Strike Answer and Estop Father From Denying Income Amount as Sanction for Refusing to Comply with Discovery
The Texas Court of Appeals has dealt another blow against hard-ball litigation tactics. In a paternity case, Father stonewalled repeated orders to provide financial information in discovery for nearly a year when the court finally ordered that he comply with discovery or have his answer stricken. Father continued to refuse to provide the information and the court struck his answer and estopped him from denying that his income was less than $6,000 a month (the amount mother was claiming as his income). The court ordered that Father pay $1221 monthly child support and father appealed, arguing that the “death penalty” sanction of striking his answer and basing child support on an income he was estopped from denying constituted a denial of his due process. The court of appeals agreed with the trial court that the refusals to comply with discovery were Father’s fault and did not implicate his attorney. The court found that the sanction had a direct nexus to the misconduct and was not unjust or excessive.
In the interests of J.D.N., 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 742 (January 27, 2006)
Opinion available on the web (last visited February 2, 2006 bgf)