• July 1, 2010

Defendants sometimes get sued and, on the day they receive the complaint (or maybe even earlier?), they know of a fatal infirmity (or two?) in the claims against them.  If the plaintiffs’ lawyers have done their job, though, the weakness would probably be factual and not legal.  (That is, the fatal infirmity would not be obvious from the allegations in the complaint, it’s just the allegations are false or incomplete.)

So, should the defendant have to wait a year, go through punishing discovery (for example, “produce all documents related to plaintiff/employee (an employee with the company for over 20 years)”), and then move for summary judgment?  Or can the defendant short-circuit the discovery blood-letting and get out early on summary judgment?

Clearly, that is what Target Corp. had hoped to do in the employment discrimination action brought by Nicholas Steen.  Steen’s counsel, however, emphatically protested, arguing that Target had jumped the gun and not permitted the plaintiff sufficient discovery.   U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen (D. Minn.) concurred with the Plaintiff.  Target was too quick out of the starting blocks.  Perhaps the odds of success outweighed the cost/risk of loss.  In any event, the denial was not “with prejudice,” so Target is likely to get another chance to clear the bar and time will tell if Target will take another run at it.

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