On January 7, 2010, the United States District Court, Southern District of California, reversed the decision to sanction outside attorneys for failing to produce tens of thousands of key documents.
In 2008, the Court had issued a Sanctions Order against Qualcomm and its counsel for “intentionally with[holding] tens of thousands of documents that defendant [Broadcom] had requested in discovery.” The Court deemed the documents to be key in the defense asserted by Broadcom. The Court sanctioned the six attorneys assisting Qualcomm for “withholding the critical documents by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the adequacy of Qualcomm’s document production.” Qualcomm did not appeal the $8.5 million sanction imposed against it while the sanctioned attorneys filed objections.
On March 5, 2008, Judge Brewster vacated the Sanctions Order as to the Responding Attorneys and remanded the matter to the District Court, “finding that the Responding Attorneys had a due process right to defend themselves.”
After reconsidering the case, the Court still had no doubts that a “massive discovery failure” took place due to several e-discovery errors, as explained in the order. However, it declined to sanction the Responding Attorneys as they “made significant efforts to comply with their discovery obligations”, did not act in “bad faith”, nor failed to make a reasonable inquiry before certifying their client’s discovery responses.