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Kraemer v. Grant Cty. - 892 F.2d 686 (7th Cir. 1990)

Rule:

Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 cannot be allowed to thoroughly undermine zealous advocacy. The rule is not intended to chill an attorney's enthusiasm or creativity in pursuing factual or legal theories. This is especially so in civil rights cases involving unpopular clients.

Facts:

Appellant attorney was sanctioned under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 for having filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client without first having made reasonable investigation into the facts of the case and was ordered to pay $3,000 as part of appellees' attorney fees. Appellant had his client write a detailed summary of her complaints, hired a private investigator to investigate her claims against her late fiancé's parents and the local sheriff for alleged civil rights violations, and when appellees refused to cooperate with the investigator, plaintiff filed suit and obtained further discovery. Appellees, along with a motion for summary judgment, requested the imposition of sanctions against appellants under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988 and rule 11 and the court entered judgment for appellees for $3,000 under rule 11.

Issue:

Was an attorney’s conduct in filing the complaint sanctionable?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that it was error to conclude that appellant attorney's conduct in filing the complaint was sanctionable. The court found that appellants' complaint withstood motion to dismiss and that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were not intended to undermine zealous advocacy, nor to chill an attorney's enthusiasm in pursuing civil rights cases for unpopular clients, especially in civil rights cases for unpopular clients.

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