The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a racial harassment and constructive discharge case because the plaintiff committed perjury in a deposition. Brown v. Oil States Skagit Smatco, No. 10-31257 (5th Cir. Dec. 6, 2011), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/10/10-31257-CV0.wpd.pdf. The plaintiff testified in a deposition that he quit his job solely because of racial harassment; however, four months earlier, in a deposition in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff testified that he quit his job solely because of back pain related to a car accident. Upon a motion for sanctions by the employer, the district court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appealed.
The Court affirmed the dismissal. A dismissal is affirmed only if: (1) there is a clear record of delay or contumacious conduct by the plaintiff and (2) lesser sanctions would not serve the best interests of justice. Here, the Court found the plaintiff’s conduct to be contumacious because he committed fraud upon the court. The Court also found that the district court properly considered lesser sanctions and that it did not abuse its discretion when it found that dismissal was the only effective sanction.
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