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Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 requires that all litigation papers be signed, certifying that the signer has made a reasonable inquiry into both the facts and the law and concluded that there is good ground to support the document submitted. It also provided the court with explicit authority to impose sanctions for violation of the rule. The two most important changes made by the 1983 Amendment were the shift from discretionary to mandatory sanctions and the creation of an objective certification standard, both of which were intended to make lawyers stop and think before filing.
Plaintiff Joseph Bergeron filed suit against defendant employer alleging that the latter failed to accommodate his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. The court granted partial summary judgment in favor of defendant. The court also determined that plaintiff and his counsel had violated the provisions of Rule 11. Subsequently, defendant moved for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 against plaintiff and his attorney. Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to the sanctions requested by Defendant.
Should defendant’s motion for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 against plaintiff and his attorney be granted?
The court granted the employer's motion for sanctions pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 11 against the employee's attorney and concluded such sanctions were appropriate because counsel for plaintiff had failed to make a reasonable investigation of the facts of the case before signing and filing the complaint. There was no medical evidence to support the allegation that the employee's disability required him to work a certain shift and four doctors had declined to support his claim despite the employee's urgent request that they do so. Sanctions were also appropriate because counsel for the employee had filed motions which did not comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As such, the court required the attorney to successfully complete a course in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure at his own expense.