The Law School Authority

Bridges v. Diesel Service Inc. Case Brief

Summary of Bridges v. Diesel Service Inc.
1994 U S Dist LEXIS 9429 E. D. Pa [1994]

Stating the Case – The Lawyer’s Responsibility

Relevant Facts: Pl Bridges, alleged that Df Diesel dismissed him from his job as a result of a disability in violation of the ADA.  B/c Pl did not exhaust all administrative remedies his complaint was dismissed by the Ct w/o prejudice.  Afterward the Pl filed a complaint w/ the EEOC.

Legal Issue(s): Whether Pl should be sanctioned for failing to exhaust all administrative remedies prior to the commencement of this action ?

Court’s Holding: No, but the ct is not condoning counsel’s lack of competency.

Procedure: Court dismissed Pl’s Complaint without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Df moves for sanction under Rule 11. Df’s motion for sanctions is DENIED.

Law or Rule(s): By presenting to the Ct a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, the claims, defenses, or other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.

Court Rationale: The filing of a charge w/ the EEOC is a condition precedent to maintenance of a discrimination suit under the ADA.  Rule 11 imposes an obligation on counsel and client analogous to the railroad sign, “Stop, Look, and Listen.”  It may be rephrased ‘stop, think, investigate, and research’ before filing papers either to initiate a suit or to conduct the litigation. Rule 11 is violated ONLY IF, at the time of signing, the signing of the document filed was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances.  Counsel’s signature certifies the pleading is supported by a reasonable factual investigation and “a normally competent level of legal research.”  A brief review of case law would have revealed the EEOC filing requirement.  The prime goal of Rule 11 is deterrence of improper conduct.  Pl’s counsel immediately acknowledged its error and attempted to rectify the situation by filing w/ EEOC and moving for suspension of civil action here.  Rule 11 sanctions should be reserved for those exceptional circumstances where the claim asserted is patently unmeritorious or frivolous.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Upon learning of the error Pl moved to have this civil action suspended, and notified the ct and opposition of the error.

Defendant’s Argument: Basic legal investigation would have disclosed the EEOC requirement, Df incurred atty fees as a result and sanction should be awarded.



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