From Toxic Bee, 3 Months ago, written in Plain Text.
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  4. This case is an example of a wealthy client (Facebook) and its high-powered law firm
  5. (Gibson Dunn) using delay, misdirection, and frivolous arguments to make litigation unfairly
  6. difficult and expensive for their opponents. Unfortunately, this sort of conduct is not uncommon
  7. in our court system
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  11. There’s a small chance, of course, that Facebook and Gibson Dunn were just overly zealous. And perhaps there’s some minute chance that they were just incompetent. But when you consider the context, it’s far more likely that the misconduct was of a different, more nefarious sort. Recall that Facebook was being sued for conduct that was the subject of a major scandal, a scandal for which the company issued numerous public apologies. Recall that the Federal Trade Commission brought an action against Facebook in the wake of the scandal, and that Facebook paid $5 billion to settle the matter. In this case, Facebook sought dismissal at an early stage, but that attempt was unsuccessful. After publicly apologizing, paying a massive penalty to the FTC, and losing that early motion, does anyone really think that Facebook was planning on taking this case to trial? Or was Facebook, with the assistance of its lawyers, executing a different play from the playbook: resist discovery as long as possible, make things increasingly difficult and expensive and frustrating for the opposition, and hope that would drive down the case’s settlement value? This is, by far, the most likely explanation for Facebook and Gibson Dunn’s conduct.
  13. This is not to suggest that there necessarily was some back-room meeting at which Facebook and its lawyers said, “Ok, here’s the plan, let’s be as unreasonable and obstructionist as possible in the hope that we’ll frustrate the plaintiffs into settling for less than they could get if we were cooperative in discovery.” Unfortunately, this approach to litigation is common enough that no such meeting was necessary. Facebook and its lawyers fell into their roles with ease, and then they took things way too far.
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  17. Facebook and Gibson Dunn are ordered to pay the plaintiffs $925,078.51 in sanctions. They are jointly and severally liable for this amount, and they must compensate the plaintiffs within 21 days of this ruling. To be sure, this amount is loose change for a company like Facebook, and even for a law firm like Gibson Dunn. But it’s important for courts to help protect litigants from suffering financial harm as a result of their opponents’ litigation misconduct. And hopefully, this ruling will create some incentive for Facebook and Gibson Dunn (and perhaps even others) to behave more honorably moving forward.