Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Use of F Word out of Court Can't Support Sanctions

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Use of F Word out of Court Can't Support Sanctions

Article excerpt

Sorting out a slip-and-fall and attorney sanctions case from the Virgin Islands, the Third Circuit has handed defeat to the client and victory to her attorney. Saldana v. K Mart, 260 F.3d 228 (2001).

Marie Saldana's slip-and-fall suit against K Mart was ended by a summary judgment against her. The K Mart attorney then sought sanctions against Lee J. Rohn, Saldana's attorney, for "repeated vulgarity, in particular the work `fuck,' towards other members of the bar" in telephone conversations and at depositions. The court later levied a sanction of ordering Rohn to attend a legal education course on civility, to write numerous letters of apology to persons "she demeaned and insulted by her vulgarity and abusive conduct," to apologize to the court reporters present at any of those proceedings, and to pay costs of $4,542 associated with the sanctions motion. 84 F.Supp.2d 629 (D. V.I. 1999).

On appeal, Third Circuit affirmed the summary judgment on the tort action, but reversed the sanctions against Rohn on the ground that the remarks, "while certainly not pretty, did not rise to the level necessary to trigger sanctions. …

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