Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Rule 11: No Abuse of Discretion Not to Sanction Factual Inaccuracies in Pleadings Due to Clerical Mistake, Promptly Corrected when Discovered — Definition of Abuse of Discretion (Fifth Circuit)

White v. Cox, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 14021 (5th Cir. July 23, 2014):

White's argument that sanctions should have been awarded pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as there were factual inaccuracies in the defendants' pleadings and the defendants willfully failed to locate a named defendant, does not establish that the MJ's ruling on this issue constituted an abuse of discretion. See Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 403-05 (1990). Once defendants learned of the factually inaccurate paragraph in their pleadings, they corrected the error and filed an amended pleading. Because the MJ provided a reasonable explanation for the oversight--clerical error--the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying White's motion for sanctions due to factual inaccuracies in defendants' pleadings. See McCrimmon v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 516 F. App'x 372, *376 (5th Cir. 2013); Friends for Am. Free Enterprise Ass'n v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, 284 F.3d 575, 577-78 (5th Cir. 2002) ("Generally, an abuse of discretion only occurs where no reasonable person could take the view adopted by the trial court.") (internal quotation marks omitted).

Regarding his argument that he should have been awarded sanctions because the defendants failed to locate a named defendant, White fails to establish that the defendants acted "to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1). Therefore, the district court's denial of White's motion for sanctions due to failure to locate a defendant was not an abuse of discretion. See Cooter & Gell, 496 U.S. at 403-05; Friends for Am. Free Enterprise Ass'n, 284 F.3d at 577-78.

Share this article:


Recent Posts