Nonsense Argument Draws Rule To Show Cause Why Attorney Should Not Be Sanctioned.


In a lawsuit involving the death of a detainee in federal custody, the plaintiff claimed that the Defendant, a health care company, violated a provision of the West Virginia Constitution. The problem was that the provision relates to state education, not health care.  The court ordered plaintiff’s counsel to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for alleging this nonsense argument in a medical care tort lawsuit.

As recently discussed by this court—in this case—in a published opinion— Article XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution reads as follows:

“The Legislature shall provide, by general law, for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.”

W. Va. Const. Art. XII, § 1. Remarkably, the plaintiff alleged a violation of this constitutional provision for a second time in the Amended Complaint. “To assert that this constitutional provision applies to disputed medical treatment and the death of a federal detainee is [still] nonsense.” Knouse, 333 F. Supp. 3d at 592.

“By presenting to the court a pleading . . . —whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney . . . certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances . . . the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b). “On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(3). Consequently, the court ORDERS the plaintiff’s counsel who signed the Amended Complaint to show cause as to why pleading violations of Article XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution, in two separate pleadings in this litigation, does not violate Rule 11(b).

Knouse v. Primecare Medical of West Virginia 18 cv 1014 (S.D. West Virginia) (January 17, 2019.

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