Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rule 11 Motions -- Please Use Sparingly.

We all know lawyers who love to threaten sanctions.  They write nasty letters, throw around 57.105 and generally try to bully their way through a lawsuit.  These lawyers are especially annoying at depositions, or at hearings where the judge can't or won't control the courtroom.

Sometimes this is client-driven, other times the lawyer is just not very skilled and falls back on threats and bluster -- this is easier than actually drafting a summary judgment motion that will be granted..

Of course, there are also times when such a motion is appropriate and in fact necessary.

Judge Hoeveler just entered an order (isn't it great he's still entering orders?) on a Rule 11 motion in a workplace discrimination case where the "sanctionable" conduct seems to be about fundamentally disputed issues of fact:
In moving for sanctions, Goodyear submits that the plaintiffs factual claims about harassment are patently false and frivolous.  In support of this position, Goodyear provided affidavits by Flores and Galeano, in which they generally deny discriminating against the plaintiffs. In particular, Mr. Flores states that he routinely hired Cubans and 'never harbored any race/national origin animus against Cubans." Further, he states that the plaintiffs were fired for lawful reasons; specifically: (1) Mr. Pardon was fired for violating Goodyear's policy on damaging customers' cars while parking them in the mechanic's service bays; (2) Mr. Carbrera was fired for insubordination, for refusing to stand on the sidewalk with an advertisement placard during part of his shift; and (3 ) Mr. Milo wasn't fired at all, but voluntarily resigned (albeit in the context of a salary dispute) . Mr. Galeano makes similar exculpatory statements concerning the fourth plaintiff, Mr. Girard--who, incidentally, was Mr. Galeano' s former roommate, in addition to being his subordinate at Goodyear. Both Flores and Galeano also submit that it was actually the plaintiffs who instigated the verbal jousting, calling the supervisors (who are of Honduran and Nicaraguan heritage) "arrow throwers," and constantly making fun of Mr. Flores for being "fat. " Goodyear served these affidavits, along with a copy of its Rule 11 motion, upon the plaintiffs and waited twenty-one days before filing the Rule 11 motion with the Court, as required by Rule 11 (c) (2) .

The plaintiffs responded by submitting the plaintiffs' answers to the defendant's interrogatory requests, in which the plaintiffs basically elaborate on the factual allegations included in the complaint about the racial slurs, misconduct, and hostile environment at Goodyear. The written statements made by the plaintiffs in response to discovery requests tend to support their pleadings, and the Court cannot conclude that this lawsuit is frivolous. Although the affidavits by Mr. Flores and Mr. Galeano are probative evidence against the plaintiffs claims, the parties' conflicting accounts of what happened simply demonstrate that there are fact disputes that, if resolved in favor of the plaintiffs, may allow them to prevail. In any event, the defendants have not met their relatively high burden of showing the lawsuit is so baseless in law or fact to justify Rule 11 sanctions.
And this motion was brought why?


Anonymous said...

Just as annoying as the practitioners who sling 57.105 and Rule 11's out in all their cases are the ones who pray for 57.105 sanctions in the ad damnum/wherefore clause of their complaint. That is entirely inappropriate and reeks of "I don't know what I'm doing." How can you ask for sanctions for filing a claim or defense that is w/o basis in law or fact before the defendant even files his fucking response to the complaint?

Anonymous said...

To throw and arrow or spear or two at the plaintiffs' case.

South Florida Lawyers said...

I get that thinking, but don't buy it.

Does anyone seriously think Judge Hoeveler or Barbara needs to have the sj issues "warmed up" via a Rule 11 motion?

Ok NOW when they see that sj motion they'll be ready to rule in our favor!

Mikethelawstudent said...

Plus it seems like that wouldn't help a summary judgment motion but just highlights and cements in the judges mind that there are clear facts in dispute. oh well. We can't all be brilliant. Thank god.



Anonymous said...

Not only that, it makes you look like an over reaching douche. By the time your msj gets to the judge he's likely thinking "ugh, this guy again."

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