Benchslaps, Federal Judges, Litigators

A Life And Death Benchslap

Rarely are the stakes of a benchslap elevated to the level of life and death.

And yet, a federal judge made just such a life and death call recently in swatting down an annoying lawyer wasting the court’s time with a litany of discovery disputes.

Thankfully, despite the stakes it’s a pretty funny benchslap….

Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz of the Southern District of California knows how to slow-play a benchslap. In the case of Donald and Viola Wills v. Buffalo Pumps, Inc. et al., defendant Foster Wallace took “what can only be characterized as a shotgun approach” by lodging 495 total objections to the evidenced amassed in support of plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion. To give a sense of the defendant’s approach:

For example, Objection No. 52 focuses on the deposition transcript of Plaintiff Donald Willis, arguing that the evidence is, among other things, irrelevant, hearsay, lacks foundation, lacks authentication, more prejudicial than probative, vague, ambiguous, and overbroad.

There was one other objection:

Not wanting to miss anything, Defendant also objects that Plaintiffs have not shown that Mr. Willis is unavailable to testify. The Court is confident that Mr. Willis is unavailable; he is deceased. While federal subpoena power is broad, Mr. Willis is now beyond this Court’s jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the other 494 objections are equally meritless.

That would be pretty confident.

Well, maybe this Foster Wheeler guy didn’t know?

This fact can hardly come as a surprise to Defendant. Plaintiffs filed a notice of death with all parties on May 7, 2013. (Doc. 209). Defendant Foster Wheeler filed its own confirmation of the death. (Doc. 210). The instant objections were filed over seven months later, on December 13, 2013. (Doc. 280-2).


Check out the whole opinion on the next page….

(hidden for your protection)

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