BENTON -- A Plainfield attorney was ordered to pay nearly $40,000 over his "inexcusable" failure to promptly act on demands for discovery.
Eric Freeland, of Lorenzini and Associates in Plainfield, was ordered by federal Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly of the Southern District of Illinois to pay the $38,750.57 in costs incurred by the opposing attorneys "for his conduct in delaying discovery and flouting Judge Daly’s orders."
Freeland asked for the district court to review the decision, arguing the delay was not intentional, but Chief Judge Michael Reagan ruled against him and ordered the adoption of the magistrate judge's report.
Freeland filed his income tax returns with the court, "presumably to suggest that he cannot pay the sanctions award," Reagan wrote.
He added that "the court finds them irrelevant to the question of fashioning an appropriate award."
One of the defendants in the underlying case, and Freeland's client, Robert Corcoran, was ordered to pay $5,000 for the cost of the forensic analysis of a computer that was wiped clean but was central to the action.
The underlying legal dispute related to claims and counterclaims over non-disclosure and non-competition agreements following the 2016 sale by Bob Corcoran of his O'Fallon-based Corcoran Consulting real estate, mortgage and small business consulting firm. All claims and counterclaims have been settled.
However, Reagan noted in his ruling that Daly found "Freeland’s conduct was inexcusable, noting his five months of delay in respond (sic) to the plaintiffs’ requests for discovery."
Daly also found that Freeland's failure to send the laptop to the plaintiff attorneys was in "direct contravention to her order."
"Judge Daly concluded that Freeland’s actions in this case are consistent with the strategy to drive up the plaintiffs’ attorneys' fee," Reagan wrote.
"Financial sanctions to compensate the plaintiffs for the significant attorneys’ fees accrued during the discovery dispute process, which included willful defiance of Judge Daly’s orders by Freeland and delay at every opportunity, are proportional and called for in this case," he added.