District Court Denies Sanctions But Instructs Angry Lawyers To Cool Off

CLAUDE-MORENCY v. University of Miami, Dist. Court, SD Florida 2013 – Google Scholar.

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the University of Miami for pregnancy discrimination. The defendant filed a motion for rule 11 sanctions and section 1927 sanctions, alleging that the plaintiff continued to litigate the case after it became clear the case was over.

The district court denied all sanctions motions and admonished counsel to act like adults:

“[G]iven his considerable years of experience, counsel for Defendant should know that though the intent behind filing the motion may not have been to “personal[ly] attack” [DE 33-16, 1] opposing counsel, an allegation of bad faith is inherently personal. Defense Counsel is well aware that sanctions motions must only be filed when the cause is just, the facts certain, and after a thorough reflection on the situation from opposing counsel’s perspective; and even then, only as a last resort. The Court’s expectation is that attorneys of counsel’s stature will take an active role in mentoring younger members of The Bar, and will, at all times, remember their obligation to lead by example. Counsel’s failure to lead, in part, resulted in this needless, time-consuming litigation. Seasoned practitioners, by virtue of their experience know in cases involving emotionally-charged situations — as all employment discrimination cases are — the true art of lawyering is often in the de-escalation of emotion. Wise and experienced counsel who rise to meet this challenge can be invaluable to the Court, and, are relied upon to assist in achieving a just and efficient result as is required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. Here, the advocacy on both sides suffered because both counsel compromised their duty of professionalism. It is especially regrettable in Defense Counsel’s case, because, by not showing restraint and better judgment, he missed an important opportunity to lead by example.”

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

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