June 15, 2015 Top Story

Law Firm's "Dishonest" Conduct Merits Sanctions

Federal court sanctions firm for prosecuting baseless and time-barred claims

Onika K. Williams

Failing to voluntarily dismiss baseless claims can constitute bad faith and warrant sanctions. Johnson v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania imposed sanctions against a firm for unnecessarily multiplying the proceeding and increasing litigation costs by refusing to dismiss meritless claims that were also clearly time-barred. The decision is a stark reminder to counsel, prior to filing suit, to examine the available evidence and case law closely to make sure it supports a good faith basis to file a claim.

Firm’s Intentional Misconduct Leads to Sanctions

Forty-nine plaintiffs filed a class-action suit in Pennsylvania state court alleging that they suffered from birth defects caused by their mothers’ ingestion of the drug thalidomide while plaintiffs were in utero in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The defendants removed the cases, and three additional plaintiffs joined the class. One law firm represented all 52 plaintiffs.

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