We always hear about frivolous lawsuits. We hear about how they cost the system so much money. Well, there was a recent example of a case in Alabama which clearly shows how a frivolous case would be handled.
Now, I am NOT passing value on this specific case. I have not reviewed one medical record or piece of evidence. It may be “frivolous”, and it may not. But, it does show how a frivolous case would be handled.
What case am I referring to? The case where a man claimed his penis was amputated during a circumcision. What happened? Well, the case was filed, and it made FRONT PAGE NEWS. See here in the New York Daily News no less.
What happened in this case? The defense attorneys filed a Motion to Dismiss based on various issues of law, and Judge Hughey dismissed the case. That was not nearly as high a profile story. The New York Daily News, to its credit, did pick it up though. See here.
However, if you look at both of these stories, the first one was posted in “National News”, and the second one was posted in “Life-Style” section of the paper. The actual dismissal of the case gets a much lower placement in the paper. Why is that? Why does our media love to mislead the public?
Our court systems have in place various methods and rules to ensure that frivolous lawsuits don’t see the light of day. If a case is frivolous, the defense attorneys are going to do their best to let the Judge know it. They will file a Motion to Dismiss, and if the judge agrees, it will be dismissed. They can file a Motion under Rule 11 of the Rules of Civil Procedure:
(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name—or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or party’s attention.
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(1) In General. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.
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(3) On the Court’s Initiative. 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).
In Alabama, the attorneys can also file for violations of the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act.
Why doesn’t the media do stories on this? Explain this? Stop saying litigation is run amuck. Litigation is not out of control. If anything, insurance companies and fortune 500 companies have taken control of the system through political campaigns. Look at the Alabama appellate Courts. We have 19 Judges on the appellate courts, and every single one of them is a Republican, and yet, in Birmingham, all the Judges are Democrats on the civil side (12). How can that be? Something is wrong here.
What do you think?