Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"All Pending Motions DENIED As Moot" Merely Scrivener's Error!


 Stearns Weaver is on a roll.

In the wake of Judge Ungaro's BankAtlantic order comes this order from Judge Lenard, upholding sanctions awarded to Stearns Weaver for discovery violations in a case that was otherwise dismissed.

I found this part interesting:
Nor did this Court’s Order Dismissing Case moot the pending Motion for Sanctions.  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 motions for sanctions are collateral to the original proceeding and therefore may be considered after the action is no longer pending. Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 395 (1990); Montgomery & Larmoyeux by Montgomery v. Philip Morris, Inc., 19 F. Supp. 2d 1334, 1335 (S.D. Fla. 1998) (Gold, J.) (district court may award attorney’s fees following remand in a separate order). The phrase “all pending motions are DENIED as moot,” as written in the Court’s form Order of Dismissal, is merely a scrivener’s error that should not preclude Defendants from continuing to exercise their prerogative to move for sanctions.
I'm always fascinated by things like this.

I agree Rule 11 sanctions are collateral and can be considered after the action is concluded, but what to do with the form order and the boilerplate language denying all pending motions as moot?

Is it sufficient to dismissively term it a "form Order" and "merely a scrivener's error" or do the words in an Order, form or not, have their unambiguously plain effect?

And how should that analysis inform us when we deal with other boilerplate language in other form documents that purport to have legal consequences?

Finally, if the words "DENIED as moot" are of no legal significance, then why are those words always there in the first place?

I hate scriveners!

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