Anne ANDERSON, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. CRYOVAC, INC., et al., Defendants, Appellees. Anne ANDERSON, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. BEATRICE FOODS CO., Defendant, Appellee. Nos. 87-1405, 88-1070. United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit. Heard July 28, 1988. Decided Dec. 7, 1988. As Amended Dec. 22, 1988.
An action was brought seeking to recover for personal injuries allegedly sustained by contamination of municipal water wells by toxic solvents. Following directed verdict for defendants on certain issues, jury made answers to special interrogatories adverse to plaintiffs, and plaintiffs appealed, and also appealed the later denial by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Walter Jay Skinner, J., of motion for relief from judgment. The Court of Appeals, Selya, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) District Court properly made finding on issue which was omitted from special interrogatory with acquiescence of plaintiffs; (2) failure to disclose or produce materials requested in discovery can constitute "misconduct" for purposes of relief from judgment even if omission is accidental; (3) to warrant relief, the misconduct must substantially have interfered with the aggrieved party's ability fully and fairly to prepare for and proceed at trial; (4) rebuttable presumption of damage to aggrieved party arises if concealment was knowing and purposeful; (5) absent knowing and deliberate misconduct, movant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that nondisclosure worked some substantial interference with its preparation or presentation; (6) nondisclosure of a certain report in the instant case constituted misconduct; and (7) trial court abused its discretion in refusing to make inquiries as to defense counsel's rationale for withholding the report, and then making findings of fact on the very matters which inquiry could reasonably have been expected to illuminate.
Appeal from judgment denied and dismissed; jurisdiction retained on appeal from denial of motion, and remanded with directions.
Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc.