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EEOC v. General Dynamics

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Citation Edit

EEOC v. General Dynamics Corp., 999 F.2d 113 (5th Cir. 1993) (full-text).

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The district court had ordered the EEOC to "provide General Dynamics with a copy of 'each tangible thing' on which [the EEOC's expert] Dr. Kearns had relied in forming his opinions."[1] "In an effort to comply with the court's order, . . . [t]he EEOC . . . provided General Dynamics with computer printouts of the entire data base constructed by Dr. Kearns . . ., all the computer programs Dr. Kearns had used, and the analyses he performed on the data."[2]

"General Dynamics complained that the EEOC should have supplied Dr. Kearns' data base and computer programs in the form of a machine-readable computer tape, rather than in the form of a computer printout. General Dynamics maintained that without the computer tapes it could not sort out the information the EEOC provided it. According to General Dynamics, the computer tapes were essential to make the provided information intelligible."[3] The district court precluded the EEOC’s expert, Dr. Kearns, from testifying, in part because the EEOC's failure to produce the computer tapes was a violation of the prior order.[4]

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The Fifth Circuit held the exclusion of Dr. Kearns’ testimony was an abuse of discretion:

The EEOC did not produce the data in the form of a computer tape because it did not understand the court's order to require it to do so. The parties quibble over whether the computer tapes ever existed in "tangible" form. We need not engage in a philosophical disquisition about the tangibility of the computer tapes; the arcane language of philosophy has rarely helped the resolution of legal disputes. Regardless of the metaphysical meaning of "tangible" in a world of computers, the EEOC's explanation, i.e., their common sense understanding that providing the computer printouts to General Dynamics would satisfy the court’s order, was reasonable in light of the order’s generality and vagueness.[5]

However, although the Fifth Circuit found that the machine-readable computer tape did not have to be produced in addition to the hard copy because the "court order in the instant case did not specifically require the EEOC to produce computer tapes, and we do not think that the production of the computer tapes was clearly implicit in the order,"[6] the Fifth Circuit implied that under appropriate circumstances production of information in machine-readable form could be required in addition to, or possibly in lieu of, hard copy printouts:

If General Dynamics needed the computer tapes in order to effectively defend against the EEOC's allegations, the absence of the tapes would have obviously prejudiced General Dynamics. However, any such prejudice could have been easily avoided. Upon the EEOC's failure to produce the computer tapes the district court could have clarified its discovery order to specifically require the EEOC to produce the computer tapes, and granted the EEOC a short continuance in which to comply with the clarified order.[7]

References Edit

  1. Id. at 115.
  2. Id.
  3. Id.
  4. Id.
  5. Id. at 116.
  6. Id.
  7. Id.

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