Northern District of Georgia Orders $2.7 Million Discovery Sanctions Against Delta Airlines
In In re Delta/AirTran Baggage Fee Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 09-2089, a six year old antitrust litigation regarding baggage fees, the Northern District of Georgia considered whether to impose additional sanctions against Delta Airlines for gross discovery misconduct throughout the case, including the failure to produce ESI and other documents.
Plaintiffs had already filed three different discovery sanctions motions against Delta for discovery abuses including withholding of documents and spoliating evidence. The court had granted all three motions, imposing nearly $5 million in sanctions.
In late 2013, Plaintiffs filed a fourth motion for sanctions, complaining that Delta had destroyed certain evidence, concealed other evidence, withheld documents, and made false representations about its activities. The Special Master appointed to the case recommended $1.86 million in sanctions against Delta. In a scathing opinion, District Court Judge Timothy Batten increased the Special Master’s recommendation to order over $2.7 million in sanctions to compensate Plaintiffs for the time and expense of fighting with Delta on discovery issues, noting that “Delta’s discovery misconduct has rendered the Court’s attempts to manage this litigation and move it forward toward a resolution on the merits as futile and maddening as Sisyphus’s efforts to roll his boulder to the top of the hill.” (See Aug. 3, 2015 Opinion at p. 24).