Law School Case Brief
Cerrato v. Nutribullet, LLC. - No. 8:16-cv-3077-T-24JSS, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133690 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 22, 2017)
Fraud on the court constitutes "only that species of fraud which does or attempts to, defile the court itself, or is a fraud perpetrated by officers of the court so that the judicial machinery cannot perform in the usual manner its impartial task of adjudging cases." Perjury and fabricated evidence do not constitute fraud upon the court, because they "are evils that can and should be exposed at trial," and "[f]raud on the court is therefore limited to the more egregious forms of subversion of the legal process, . . . those we cannot necessarily expect to be exposed by the normal adversary process."
On November 1, 2016, Plaintiffs, Phyllis B. Cerrato and German Cerrato (Cerratos) filed this product liability lawsuit against Defendants Nutribullet, LLC and Capital Brands, LLC (Nutribullet) for injuries sustained by the Cerratos when Plaintiff Phyllis Cerrato used a blender that was designed and manufactured by Nutribullet. The blender exploded and resulted in hot liquids severely burning Phyllis Cerrato's face and upper body, as well as causing property damage to the Cerratos’ kitchen. Nutribullet filed the instant motion to dismiss, arguing that the Cerratos fabricated evidence to support their claims and committed fraud on the court.
Should the case filed by plaintiffs be dismissed with prejudice because plaintiffs allegedly fabricated evidence to support their claims?
The court held that evidence showed that at worst, the Cerratos committed perjury and fabricated evidence. Such actions constitute harm between the parties, not harm to the court. The court agreed with Nutribullet that the Cerratos appeared to be changing their story regarding precisely how the incident happened. While the court did not condone such conduct, Nutribullet could point out these inconsistencies to a jury, which could prevent them from being further prejudiced. As such, the court concluded that the extreme sanction of dismissal with prejudice was not warranted.
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