Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Error to Impose Sanctions in 2013 under Pre-1993 Version of Rule 11

Webb v. LaSalle, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 15051 (5th Cir. July 2, 2013):

Regarding the imposition of sanctions, however, the court did not apply current law, and its quotations from and references to Rule 11 do not appear to come from the text of that rule as it was largely amended in 1993 to make it more difficult to levy sanctions. (The 2007 amendment made only stylistic changes.) The cases the court cites in its 2 1/2-page discussion of sanctions were all decided before the significant 1993 amendments. For example, the court cites a 1991 case for the proposition that "[t]here are no longer any 'free passes' for attorneys and litigants who violate Rule 11." But that is no longer true under Rule 11(c)(2).

In sum, the court was not justified in imposing sanctions using the pre-1993 standards it utilized. The insufficiencies in plaintiffs' case, although substantial, are not egregious enough to warrant sanctions under amended Rule 11, although plaintiffs and their counsel are warned against further vexatious litigation. It is time to put this matter to rest, both on the merits and in regard to sanctions. In the interest of justice and finality, we reverse the sanctions as unsupported under modern Rule 11.

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