Sanctions Ordered in Honeywell v. Nikon
In Honeywell International, Inc. v. Nikon Corp., C.A. No. 04-1337-JJF (Oct. 14, 2009), Judge Farnan, adopting the recommendation of Special Master Vincent J. Poppiti, ordered $18,000 in sanctions against InnoLux, a defendant in a patent infringement case, for its discovery behavior. Id. at 2. These sanctions resulted from a November 25, 2008 order requiring InnoLux to give plaintiff Honeywell an opportunity to re-depose the InnoLux's 30(b)(6) witness, because at the original deposition InnoLux rased multiple groundless objections, improperly instructed the witness not to answer questions allegedly outside of the scope of the discovery order, and possibly failed to adequately prepare the witness.
According to the Court's original order, "each and every objection and ensuing instruction not to answer on the grounds of work product was improper, and each is hereby stricken." Nov. 25th Order, at 3. Further, "It is inappropriate to instruct a 30(b)(6) witness not to answer a question, unless there is an appropriate claim of privilege." Id. Honeywell raised concerns about the witness's lack of preparation, and the number of times that the witness answered "I don't know"; the Court found that each of the questions that elicited an "I don't know" or to which an objection was raised were actually within the scope of the 30(b)(6) notice. Id. at 4-5. Due to the InnoLux's behavior, the Court ordered that the 30(b)(6) witness be re-deposed, and that the firm bear the costs of the deposition, including attorney's fees. Id. at 5. Although the court did not characterize these costs as "sanctions" in the original order, the Oct. 14 order referred to them as "sanctions," and set the amount at $18,000. Oct. 14 Order, at 2.