The Role Evidence Plays in Avoiding Sanctions

Posted: October 24, 2018

Evidence is the cornerstone to most claims and its good-faith basis is what can avoid possible sanctions. In the case that an attorney exceeds the bounds of the law or unjustly burdens the court system, courts may impose sanctions on the offending attorney. This rule is explicitly explained and in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1927 – Counsel’s liability for excessive costs. Code 1927 details that an attorney or person permitted to conduct cases in any United States court who multiplies the proceedings in a case in an unreasonable and vexatious manner may be subjected to sanctions.

These sanctions mandated by the court can include the offending attorney being held personally liable for excess costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees reasonably incurred because of the misconduct. Therefore, in compliance with this rule it is imperative that prior to filing a suit, the available evidence and case law are closely examined to ensure it supports a good faith basis to file the specific claim. Solidifying the evidence beforehand to ensure it can be upheld in court is the proper way to avoid sanctions.

Johnson vs. SmithKline Beecham Corporation

The failure of attorneys to dismiss baseless claims can result in sanctions. Johnson vs. SmithKline Beecham Corporation is an example of the importance of valid evidence in relations to avoiding sanctions. This case resulted in sanctions imposed against the plaintiffs’ firm as they were found guilty for unnecessarily multiplying the proceedings and increasing the litigation costs. It was their failure to dismiss three meritless and time-sensitive claims that resulted in the ruling of their unreasonable and vexatious manner.lawyers examining evidence

Knowing that certain time-barred claims in the case would not survive on a theory of fraudulent concealment, the plaintiffs’ firm of attorneys failed to dismiss the three invalid claims. Continuing to pursue these claims, knowing they would be discovered invalid, is what led to the imposition of sanctions on the plaintiff’s firm. The ruling of imposed sanctions was upheld for violating the code for excessive costs for specific reasons: the plaintiff’s firm failed to investigate thoroughly before filing the invalid claims, the firm continued pursuing invalid claims even after defendants warned the firm that some claims may be time-barred, and their resistance to sanctions demonstrated their refusal to acknowledge the invalid claims. It was the clear evidence that the plaintiff’s firm continued litigating the three invalid claims after noticing they were time-barred and baseless. This resulted in a ruling imposing sanctions on the firm after it proceeded to litigate in a vexatious manner.

The case of Johnson vs. SmithKline Beecham Corporation highlights the importance of solidifying claims on a good-faith basis to the full extent of the law in order to avoid sanctions. The attorney’s knowledge of the law combined with their experience relevant to time-barred claims consequently led to sanctions as their practices unreasonably multiplied proceedings as displayed in Sanction 1927.  This case is an example of the importance of examining the good-faith basis to confirm the statute of limitations has been divulged by the theory of fraudulent concealment beforehand. It is the job of the attorney or firm to confirm a claim’s ability to be upheld prior to the proceedings.  In order to avoid sanctions, the evidence specific to the case must be carefully, meticulously, and factually analyzed prior to filing the suit.