A molecular biologist recently had her case thrown out for repeatedly disobeying the court’s orders to provide discovery. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (“UMDMJ”) employed Ewa Fik-Rymarkiewicz as a postdoctoral fellow. She claimed that she experienced harassment and discrimination from her supervisors after she notified them that she was pregnant in January 2005. UMDMJ terminated her in September 2006.
In October 2006, Fik-Rymarkiewicz filed a lawsuit alleging claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). However, she failed to cooperate with UMDMJ during the discovery process. As a result, the school’s attorneys continued her deposition on four separate days between August 2008 and April of 2010. During her depositions, Fik-Rymarkiewicz refused to answer questions about her current employment and immigration status. Instead, she claimed that she would “answer only questions which are related to the time [she] was working for... UMDNJ.” She also failed to produce her income tax returns.
When Fik-Rymarkiewicz did not appear for the fourth day of her deposition as ordered by the court, UMDMJ filed a motion to dismiss her complaint without prejudice. The court granted the motion and ordered that she produce certain discovery and participate in another day of deposition. However, she was again obstinate at her deposition and unilaterally redacted various information and schedules from her tax returns when she finally produced them.
UMDMJ then moved to dismiss her complaint with prejudice which the court granted. Fik-Rymarkiewicz appealed that decision to the New Jersey Appellate Division. In a published opinion, the Appellate Division found Fik-Rymarkiewicz’s conduct to be “deliberate and contumacious” and upheld the lower court’s ruling.