• March 28, 2013

It is an 18-page stinging rebuke from U.S. District Court Mag. Judge Jeffrey J. Keyes of Bowman & Brooke lawyer, C.J. Schoenwetter, and his client (Golden Living Center Chief Legal Officer David Beck).

Golden Living Center obtained documents subject to a protective order in a lawsuit in United States District Court that expressly provided that documents designated confidential could not be used in other litigation but then Golden Living Center, represented in the separate litigation by Schoenwetter did just that.

And Mag. Judge Keyes plainly found their explanations unsatisfactory.

Lawyers handle documents stamped “confidential” very often.  There may be a tendency to overlook this designation.  Don’t.

The law firm of Bowman & Brooke may have had more than its share of troubles in discovery violations and sanctions.  (This decision in the huge Toyota “unintended acceleration” litigation was significant.  Baker v. General Motors was another.)  But this is anecdotal rather than rigorously statistical.  And this might just be due to the firm’s long and distinguished experience in high stakes products liability defense, where physical evidence is hugely important and clients are enormous corporations.  That’s a potentially lethal combination for “dropped balls” (by accident or, more rarely, one hopes, by design).

If a firm is handling thousands of cases nationwide year after year, the occasional discovery disaster gets a great deal of attention and the thousands of non-events, of course, get no coverage.

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