The following is a fictionalized account of a conversation between the plaintiff’s attorneys in Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Broussard, No. 2007-CA-01010-COA (Miss.Ct. App. Sept. 30, 2008), as reported at 24 Lawyers’ Manual 535 (Oct. 15, 2008).

Associate: You know that asbestos case we filed a couple of weeks ago?

Partner: You mean Broussard? Yeah, that was a close one! Got in just before the statute of limitations expired.

Associate: That’s the one. We got a motion to dismiss on it.

Partner: So what else is new. Fire up your keyboard and let’s knock that one back at them.

Associate: It’s going to be kind of a tough one.

Partner: Why is that?

Associate: Well, they say he’s dead.

Partner: What, do they think we counted the days wrong? We checked and double-checked that we were getting in before the statute expired.

Associate: No, not dead like his claim is dead. Dead like he’s dead. Like gone to a better place dead.

Partner: They think Broussard is dead?!

Associate: Yep.

Partner: Didn’t you talk to him before we filed?

Associate: No, you always like to talk to the clients.

Partner: How dead do they think he is?

Associate: Really quite dead. Like 20 months worth of dead.

Partner: Have you tried calling him?

Associate: Ya. Number disconnected.

Upon being informed the client was dead, the decedent’s firm moved to dismiss their complaint. The Mississippi Court of Appeals, reviewing the district court’s denial of sanctions against the law firm, held 6-4 that the complaint was frivolous and that Rule 11 sanctions should be awarded.

Eric Cooperstein
Eric Cooperstein, the "Ethics Maven has a solo practice devoted to representing and consulting with lawyers in a wide variety of legal ethics and law practice conundrums. Eric defends lawyers against ethics complaints, provides advice and expert opinions, and represents lawyers in fee disputes and law firm break-ups. Eric is a frequent CLE presenter, webcaster, and moderator in Minnesota and nationwide on legal ethics and practice management.

Leave a Reply