Drejka v. Hitchens Tire Service, Inc., 15 A.3d 1221 (Del. 2010)
The Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court's decision to exclude Plaintiff's expert in a personal injury action and grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Hitchens Tire Service, Inc. The Court found that the lower court's exclusion of plaintiff's medical expert was not warranted as a sanction for plaintiff's discovery violation of providing defendant with an expert report five months after the deadline in the scheduling order. The Court reasoned that exclusion of plaintiff's expert had the effect of entering a default judgment against plaintiff. As plaintiff did not appear to have any responsibility for her attorney's conduct, and the expert report was produced over two months prior to trial, the Court held that the defendant was not severely prejudiced by the violation. There was also no evidence of bad faith on the part of plaintiff's counsel and lower court failed to impose lesser sanctions. Therefore, the Court found the decision to grant summary judgment to be inappropriate under the circumstances. The Court further noted that if the lower court had imposed monetary sanctions for discovery violations several times, and these sanctions were not effective, the sanction of dismissal would be more supportable.