Saturday, December 7, 2013

Zuk v. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute of the Medical College of Pennsylvania case brief

Zuk v. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute of the Medical College of Pennsylvania case brief summary
103 F.3d 294 (1996)

Appellant attorney challenged an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which entered sanctions against plaintiff and appellant attorney and ordered payment of defendant's counsel fees after dismissal of plaintiff's copyright infringement action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

Plaintiff brought suit against defendant for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C.S. § 501(a). Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and the district court ruled in its favor. While the motion was pending, defendant moved for sanctions under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(1)(A) on the ground that appellant attorney had failed to conduct an inquiry into the facts and law. Plaintiff and appellant attorney were thereafter subject to joint and several liability for the sanctions. Plaintiff settled his liability and appellant attorney appealed.

  • On appeal, the court held that the district court abused its discretion in awarding sanctions without finding bad faith and without providing adequate notice. 
  • The court concluded that it was error to invoke without comment a very severe penalty.
To the extent the district court's order imposed sanctions upon appellant attorney a federal rule, it was affirmed only as to the actual imposition of sanctions and was vacated as to the type and amount of sanctions imposed under the rule and all sanctions imposed under the statute. The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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