What are the penalties for not showing up for a deposition in a civil lawsuit?

My company has filed suit against an ex-salesman over non-compete issues and a countersuit for unpaid commissions. I am a friend of the salesman and still work for the company but my deposition would hurt both sides. What happens if I just don’t show up for the deposition since I’m just a witness?

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Business Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The civil rules of procedure outline penalties for discovery violations.  Failing to show up to a deposition would be considered this type of violation.  Parties to a lawsuit are treated more harshly than non-parties (i.e. witnesses).  Since you are just a witness and not a party to the lawsuit, you could face some consequences for failing to appear at the deposition... but just not as severe as a regular party.  Even though less severe, a contempt order can be extremely inconvenient and expensive.  If one of the parties moves for sanctions against you, a court can order you to be held in contempt, fined, or jailed if he finds that your refusal to attend was willful.  Because it's a civil matter, he also doesn't have to appoint you an attorney to defend your rights.  Even though the deposition will be inconvenient and difficult, your best bet is to show up and tell the truth.  You may want to place a phone call to the side that is requesting your deposition just to let them know that your testimony probably is not in their best interest-- sometimes parties will back off mandatory depositions once they find out they are no longer going to help their cause.

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