EAST ST. LOUIS — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois ordered Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. (GML) to pay half of the attorney’s fees and costs to plaintiff BNSF Railway Co., following a dispute in a liability case.
GML must pay $561.57 in fees and costs for two depositions, according to court records.
The court also overruled GML’s objections to a magistrate’s findings. The court said that the magistrate judge ruled correctly in finding that GML did not make a reasonable inquiry when responding to BSNF Railway’s request to admit that it owned a pry bar involved in an accident that formed the basis of the litigation. That led to a liability dispute, according to court records. Other responses were related to GML’s employees seeing BNSF Railway’s employees using the pry bar and failing to stop them from using it.
Originally, GML responded that it did not know who owned the pry bar and denied seeing BNSF employees using it, according to court records. During depositions, two of GML’s employees said these facts were untrue and the record ended up being amended.
According to the opinion, GML’s objection is “immaterial to the ultimate recommendation to make the award and there is no further controversy related to the adequacy of GML's answers to the requests to admit.”
The court further found that it would not have been difficult for GML to speak to the two employees about the pry bar prior to answering BNSF’s interrogatories. Since the information would have been readily available to them as GML employees, the court found GML’s failure to obtain the statements does not amount to a “reasonable inquiry,” according to the court opinion.
The court ordered GML to only pay half of the attorney expenses and costs because BSNF still would have taken depositions of the two employees even if the information about the pry bar had been obtained sooner.