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Court Of Appeals Affirms Trial Court’s Decision To Bar Witnesses After Party Misses Disclosure Deadline

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court’s decision to bar trial witnesses because a party failed to timely disclose them. In Roeder v. Global Express Services, LLC, 2017 Mich. App. LEXIS 947 (June 13, 2017), the trial court had entered a scheduling order setting dates for the parties to disclose witnesses. The defendant submitted its witness disclosures well past the deadlines, and the trial court excluded the witnesses’ testimony at trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, stating, “Once a party has failed to file a witness list in accordance with the scheduling order, it is within the trial court’s discretion to impose sanctions against that party. These sanctions may preclude the party from calling witnesses.” The Court noted that the defendant’s failure to timely provide witness lists was likely accidental, but the defendant exhibited a history of failing to comply with discovery requests. The opinion is a strong reminder to all parties and their counsel that the consequences of failing to adhere to a court’s deadlines may be fatal to their claims.

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