It gets costly if you don’t play nice

Do you remember your mother telling you to “play nice?” The importance of playing nice applies to litigation, as well. If you don’t play nice, it can get costly, as the plaintiff in a breach of contract case learned.

The plaintiff had filed suit against a beautician school, claiming the school had failed to provide the training it had promised, and sought damages of $8666. The school sought information about the plaintiff’s claims and requested she answer questions and produce documents. The plaintiff complied but not to the school’s satisfaction, and so the school asked for supplemental responses. The plaintiff provided supplemental responses, but they too were not satisfactory. The school asked a third time for additional information

Finally, the school asked the court to compel the plaintiff to provide complete responses. The plaintiff did not oppose the motion, and the court ordered that she provide additional responses within 10 days. Eleven days after receiving the order, the plaintiff complied with the court order. The school then asked the court to award sanctions against the plaintiff for being noncompliant. The court awarded the school $1552 in attorney fees, which was upheld on appeal.

We can’t tell exactly happened at the trial court, but we know the plaintiff was asked three times to provide information; even then, the school had to get the court to intervene. In other situations—courts are not quick to award sanctions—that may not have been enough to trigger sanctions, but it was here. The takeaway is this: being evasive or lazy when it comes to answering questions and producing documents wastes everyone’s time. Worse yet, you just might find yourself before a judge who isn’t tolerant of people who don’t play nice.

[Rardin v. The Salon Professional Academy, 6th Dist. Wood App. No. WD-16-011, 2017-Ohio-410]

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