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Order for IBM to pay subcontractor in state suits affirmed

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An appeals court Tuesday affirmed trial court orders that IBM pay a subcontractor for costs it incurred related to lawsuits over the failed $1.3 billion Family and Social Services Administration modernization contract.

The panel upheld Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer’s ruling that ACS Human Services LLC was entitled to receive from IBM $709,398.95 in costs related to discovery and production of documents. The trial court also later imposed sanctions of $425,178.85 against ACS, reducing total net damages payable to ACS from IBM to $284,219.15.

ACS and IBM each appealed the ruling on abuse-of-discretion bases. IBM claimed ACS was so closely linked to IBM that it was not entitled to payment of costs related to third-party participation in discovery, and that the court’s award was unsupported by the evidence. IBM sought almost $900,000 in sanctions against ACS.

ACS’ cross-appeal asserted it was entitled to more than $1.67 million, that sanctions against the company in favor of IBM were impermissible under Indiana Trial Rules, and that the company didn’t engage in sanctionable conduct, among other arguments.

The court rejected arguments on appeal from both sides. In an opinion written by Judge L. Mark Bailey and joined by Judges Cale Bradford and Melissa May, the judges agreed that both sides impermissibly asked the court to reweigh the evidence.

“Thus, as we did with IBM’s appeal, we decline ACS’s invitation to second-guess the trial court’s judgment, and affirm the trial court’s determination of the amount of sanctions to be paid by ACS,” Bailey wrote in International Business Machines Corporation v. ACS Human Services, LLC, 49A02-1301-PL-49.

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded ACS some, but not all, of the damages it requested as a result of its participation in discovery as a non-party under Trial Rule 34. Nor did the trial court abuse its discretion when it awarded IBM some, but not all, of the attorneys’ fees and other damages it incurred as a result of ACS’s failure to comply with the trial court’s discovery orders. We therefore affirm the trial court’s orders on both matters.”

The decision came one day after a separate panel heard arguments in the appeal of Dreyer’s award of $62 million in favor of IBM in a related case, State of Indiana v. IBM.

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