Nevada hospital to pay $820K for discovery violations in class-action wage dispute

A Nevada federal judge has ordered Las Vegas-based University Medical Center to pay nearly $820,000 in sanctions for destroying evidence and discovery violations in a class-action employee wages lawsuit.

The civil lawsuit alleges University Medical Center employees, including nurses, routinely worked through their meal breaks without pay. The lawsuit was filed after a Department of Labor investigation addressed similar issues. The DOL concluded that the hospital violated the record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act "by not keeping accurate records of hours worked for all employees due to the fact that employees were not taking lunch breaks, but it was automatically deducted in pay records."

In the civil lawsuit, the court appointed a special master after University Medical Center failed to produce electronically stored information in response to plaintiffs' discovery requests. The special master's report revealed several discovery violations.

"The court found that UMC had repeatedly violated its discovery obligations and its duty to preserve," wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen in an order filed Nov. 5. "Its multiple failures to implement timely preservation procedures, and to identify and collect information from relevant responsive repositories, resulted in the destruction of electronically stored information responsive to plaintiffs' discovery requests. It also resulted in considerable delay of discovery, consumed an extraordinary amount of judicial resources, and cost the parties enormous, unnecessary time and expense."

The judge gave the hospital until Dec. 5 to pay $819,715 in sanctions, including $570,885 in attorneys' fees and costs of $248,830.

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