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Favorable Jury Verdict for DuPont Tossed Because DuPont Withheld Evidence

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The Louisiana-based federal judge in Simoneaux et al. v. E.I. du Pont De Nemours & Co., an environmental qui tam action concerning safety problems at a chemical plant, set aside a jury verdict in favor of DuPont, holding that DuPont withheld crucial evidence that could have changed the outcome of the case. While DuPont failed to produce the evidence at issue in Simoneaux, it had produced the same evidence in an unrelated qui tam action. The court rejected DuPont’s argument that the evidence was available to the relator in Simoneaux because DuPont had produced in the other case. The court held that DuPont had engaged in “misconduct” because the relator in Simoneaux requested the evidence in discovery and DuPont failed to produce it.
The court’s June 25, 2015 ruling states, “[T]he Court finds that Relator has established by clear and convincing evidence that the newly discovered leak calculations and the November 2014 OSHA Citation were called for in discovery. DuPont’s failure to produce them is misconduct for the purposes of Rule 60(b)(3).” The court held that DuPont’s failure to produce the evidence affected the integrity of the trial process and prevented the relator from fully presenting his case. The court emphasized that its decision to set aside the judgement in favor of DuPont does not imply that the outcome of the trial would have been different had DuPont not withheld the evidence.
Based on the unavailability of the evidence, the court granted the relator’s post-verdict motion for relief from judgment, but denied the relator’s motion for a new trial.

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