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What happens when the Defense Refuses to Comply with the Judge's Order

In your medical malpractice case, the judge orders the defense to turn over their medical records, but they refuse to comply with this court's order. Is there a penalty for the defense refusing the judge's order and complying with it?

The Defense does not Comply with the Court Order

The defense has been told to turn over certain medical records, and they ignore the judge's order. In such a situation, what can the plaintiff's lawyer do if defense continues to ignore the court's order? The plaintiff's lawyer can mention this during a conference with the court, and tell the judge that the defense has failed to follow the order of turning over the medical records.

The judge will then ask the defense why they have failed to comply with the order, and the defense lawyer will give some explanation or excuse. The judge then might give the defense additional time for them to obtain the medical records and turn them over to the plaintiff.

However, even after several months if the defense has not turned over these records, the judge will again ask the defense at a court conference why they have not yet complied with the order. The defense might come up with some other excuse or explanation, and this can really frustrate the plaintiff. The plaintiff's lawyer can now ask the judge to take some extreme measures, like striking the defense's answer.

What is the Answer?

When a medical malpractice case is started, the plaintiff has to serve a document known as complaint, which are allegations. This document will tell that somebody did something wrong, and they violated the basic standards of medical care. The defense will have to prepare a document called answer, which provides answers to the allegations.

Striking the Answer

Now if the judge goes ahead and strikes the defense's answer, it would mean that the plaintiff has won the case, he will not have to go to trial, and prove that he is more likely right than wrong. Then the entire case shifts to damages, which is how much compensation the injured victim is entitled. Hence, if the judge strikes the answer of the defense because the defense has failed to comply with the court's order several times, the case would practically be over and ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Not complying with the order of the judge is not a positive thing. The judge might ask reasons and explanations for the non-compliance and give additional time, the first one or two times. However, if the defense repeatedly does not comply with the order, the judge may take strict measures, and the most drastic step would be to strike the defense's answer. This would practically end the case, as the plaintiff no longer has to prove that he is more likely right than wrong at trial. The only aspect remaining is for the jury to come up with a compensation figure, and settle the case.

Therefore, if the judge has ordered something, it is best to comply with the judge's demand, or have an outstanding and pivotal reason for your noncompliance.

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