Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Judge Slams Defense Counsel for Dilatory Tactics in ADA Public Accommodations Case

Here's something you don't see every day.  In a pair of ADA Title III cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, the defendants (a Courtyard Marriott and a Comfort Inn, both in Merced, California) filed motions to strike various allegations in the plaintiff's complaint.  The allegations involved the extent of the plaintiff's disabilities, the reasons the plaintiff chose to patronize the defendant hotels, and the injury she experienced at the hotels, as well as various citations to the statutory and legal background.  Some of these allegations seem downright essential to making out a case under Title III, while others are at least helpful in describing the background and basis of the dispute.  And even if some of the allegations were out of place in a complaint (as some legal citations are), responding to them with a motion to strike (as opposed to a responsive pleading or a dispositive motion) does nothing more than waste everyone's time.

Magistrate Judge Sandra M. Snyder recognized this and denied the motions to strike.  She began her opinion this way:
Defendants move to strike portions of Plaintiff's first amended complaint pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Defendants' failure to support their laundry list of materials to be stricken belies their true intent, which is to continue their strategy of delaying the resolution of this case. Finding no basis to strike any portion of the amended complaint, the Court denies the motion.
And she ended her opinion with a threat to impose sanctions on the defense if its dilatory tactics continued:
This Court has repeatedly warned Defendants and their current counsel regarding motions and other litigation tactics apparently presented solely for improper purposes including harassment, delay, and inflation of litigation costs. Further frivolous or malicious tactics will subject Defendants and their attorney to sanctions pursuant to F.R. Civ. P. 11.



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