failed to respond to letters from McBurrowsin November and December. Interrogatories and a demand
for documents filed by Gregorie and interrogatories filed by Winston also went unanswered.
Dawe was having the same problem and, on December 2, 1996, he moved to strike his
appearance. In his motion, he said that he had spoken with Kirby in June and thatshe “doubted that she
wanted to pursue the action.” On December 20, the court granted his motion. Ten days later, State
Farm’s Claim Superintendent wrote to Kirby, admonishing her that, if she continued to ignore requests for
assistance, State Farm may refuse to protect her and she may be liable for any judgment rendered against
her. On January 20, 1997, McBurrows wrote to her, confirming that, if she continued to withhold her
cooperation, judgment would be taken against her and she would be responsible personally. That letter,
sent by certified mail, was returned unclaimed.
In February, 1997, Gregorieand Winston each filed a motion for discovery sanctions, noting
Kirby’s refusal to respond to discovery and the fact that trial was scheduled for May 29, 1997. They
asked that Kirby be barred from opposing their claims and prohibited from offering any evidence at trial.
McBurrows opposed the motions and asked for additional time. The court responded initially by dismissing
Kirby’slawsuitandgivingheruntilMay6,1997to respond to all outstanding discovery requests. State
Farmwrote to her,by regular and certi ied mail, on February 14, March 5, April 7, and April 11 requesting
that she contact McBurrows; the certi ied letters were returned unclaimed. State Farm also employed an
investigator who, at various times, le t messages for Kirby with her father, her sisters, her husband, and her
employer, and had letters physically delivered to her home in Georgia, all to no avail. After 15 to 20
attempts, he was inally able to speak directly to Kirby, who, on two occasions,promised to contact State
Farm or McBurrows but never did so. On May 6, 1997, the court entered an order precluding Kirby from