Wednesday, September 22, 2010

federal courts - pre-trial orders - violation - sanctions - FRCivP 16

Rorrer v. Cleveland Steel Container Corp. - ED Pa. - September 20, 2010

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(f), which authorizes sanctions for violations of pretrial orders issued pursuant to Rule 16, provides: (1) In General. On a motion or on its own, the court may issue any just orders, including those authorized by Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(ii)-(iii), if a party or its attorney: . . .(c) fails to obey a scheduling or other pretrial order. (2) Imposing Fees and Costs. Instead of or in addition to any other sanction, the court must order the party, its attorney, or both to pay the reasonable expenses - - including attorney’s fees - - incurred because of any noncompliance with this rule, unless the noncompliance was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(f)(1)(c), 16(f)(2).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that “monetary sanctions for noncompliance with Rule 16 pretrial orders are required and appropriate absent a showing that the violationwas ‘substantially justified’ or the award of expenses is ‘unjust’ under the circumstances of the case.” Tracinda Corp. v. DaimlerChrysler AG, 502 F.3d 212, 241 (3d Cir. 2007). Substantial justification exists where there is a “genuine dispute concerning compliance.” Id. (quoting Fitz, Inc. v. RalphWilson Plastics Co., 174 F.R.D. 587, 591 (D.N.J. 1997)). To determine whether sanctions are “unjust,” a court considers “the degree of the sanction in light of the severity of the transgression which brought about the failure to comply.” Tracinda Corp., 502 F.3d at 241.