HINES V. BARNETT BANK OF TAMPA, NA
CIVIL PROCEDURE: RULE 11; new standard of review on imposition of sanctions relying on abuse of discretion
PUBLISHED: DISMISSING IN PART AND AFFIRMING IN PART
PANEL: ACREE PRESIDING; CLAYTON, WINE CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 3/28/2008
This appeal follows on a failed intervention in which the time for appealing had expired and the attorney and litigants were hit with Rule 11 sanctions for the attempted intervention.
A motion for sanctions under Rule 11 was collateral to the merits of the case and does not extend or toll the time for filing an appeal of a final judgment. In reviewing the facts of this case, the COA believed that where sanctions have been denied, then appellate review is limited to a determination of whether the trial court abused its discretion.
A trial court should not impose sanctions without a hearing; this means "opportunity to be heard.” Since a trial court ‘would necessarily abuse its discretion if it based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence,’ the COA adopted the unitary abuse-of-discretion standard for review of all aspects of the imposition of Rule 11 sanctions by a trial court.
If a litigant could purge his violation of Rule 11 merely by taking a dismissal he would lose all incentive to "stop think and investigate more carefully before serving and filing papers.”
As the Rule 11 violation is complete when the paper is filed ”Hines ’ withdrawal from representation “does not expunge the violation.”
By Michael Stevens