War story time! This is the epic tale of the ten invoices. In November of 2013 I sent a request for production seeking certain invoices. We’re talking 15 pieces of paper. After months and months of dragging their feet, several admonishments from the judge during case management conferences, and a reluctant motion to compel, sometime last September the defendants filed an affidavit stating that they did not have the invoices.
Now this is where it gets good. In October I sent a subpoena to the entity that issued the invoices. The Defendants sent a letter to the entity I subpoenaed telling the entity not to produce the invoices because they were going to “quash” the subpoena. Nothing was filed and nothing was produced. I filed a motion to compel and the Defendants, not the entity, file a motion for a protective order claiming the documents are not relevant. The motion is denied…obviously, but the entity fails to produce anything. Back to the judge and finally the entity is ordered to produce my precious invoices.
I receive the invoices from the Defendants, not the entity, and they are completely redacted. Nearly every single word was covered except the occasional article or preposition. I bring them with me to the pretrial conference and the judge goes berserk. The defendants are represented by a fairly large firm but they send some poor puppy lawyer who has no clue what’s going on in the case. She tells the judge that her client did the redaction before sending her the invoices. The judge sua sponte sets a show cause hearing for next month to hold the client in contempt for making the redactions. I am shocked that the judge is finally going to do something. The defendants attorney files a motion seeking to postpone the hearing date because he has a vacation planned all next month. The motion also states that the client should not be held in contempt, that only the lawyer should be held in contempt because it was the lawyer’s decision to produce the redacted invoices. On wednesday the judge puts on the following order:
…AT THE RECENT PRETRIAL CONFERENCE THE DEFENDANTS' COUNSEL SUGGESTED THE DEFENDANTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS NEVER HAD UNREDACTED VERSIONS OF THE INVOICES. THAT ASSERTION - IMPLAUSIBLE TO BEGIN WITH - HAS NOW BEEN DEMONSTRATED AS FALSE BY THE DEFENDANTS' ATTORNEY'S ADMISSION IN A MOTION FOR A CONTINUANCE THAT HE HAD UNREDACTED INVOICES…THE DEFENDANTS ARE ORDERED TO PRODUCE UNREDACTED INVOICES TO THE PLAINTIFFS FORTHWITH, AND THE PLAINTIFFS SHOULD FILE WITH COURT IMMEDIATELY UPON RECEIPT OF THE UNREDACTED INVOICES A NOTICE TO THE EFFECT THAT IT IS SATISFIED THAT COMPLETE, UNREDACTED INVOICES HAVE BEEN PRODUCED.
Yesterday I got unredacted invoices. Since that time I have gotten three phones calls and two emails from Defendants’ counsel asking me to file my notice because his flight leaves tomorrow and he’s afraid the judge won’t grant the continuance of his client’s contempt hearing if I don’t tell the judge I got my unredacted invoices. By the way, these invoices don’t have the formula for coca-cola, they’re literally just a list of dates and amounts due.