Friday, November 16, 2012

Florida judge benchslaps attorney for exceeding page limit and poor editing

In the case of Belli v. Hedden Enterprises (Westlaw subscription required) currently pending before a Florida federal district court, the plaintiff's attorney sought to file a motion in excess of the court's 25 page limit. Before the court had a chance to rule, the attorney filed his 29 page brief anyway, something that did not sit well with Judge Steven D. Merryday.  Accordingly, Judge Merryday denied the plaintiff's motion in a published order that included a passage from the offending brief which the judge redlined to show the attorney how to edit his writing to make it more concise (and thus meet the court's page limit rule).  Judge Merryday then referred plaintiff's counsel to Bryan Garner's book, the Elements of Legal Style, for further help with his writing.

Here's full text of Judge Merryday's order:

On August 3, 2012, the plaintiffs moved (Doc. 22) for leave to submit a motion that exceeds the page limit. The motion states, “The complex factual and legal issues involved[ ] make it difficult to meet the page limitation of twenty-five [ ] pages.” Two hours later and without leave, the plaintiffs submitted (Doc. 23) a twenty-nine-page motion. Based on the mistaken premise that this FLSA collective action presents atypically complex issues, the motion to exceed the page limit (Doc. 22) is DENIED. The motion for conditional collective status (Doc. 23) is STRICKEN.

A review of the proposed, twenty-nine-page motion's commencement confirms that a modicum of informed editorial revision easily reduces the motion to twenty-five pages without a reduction in substance. Compare this:
Plaintiffs, ZACHARY BELLI, BENJAMIN PETERSON, ERIC KINSLEY, and LARRY JOHNSON, (hereinafter referred to as “Plaintiffs”), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (“Class members”), by and through the undersigned counsel and pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) files this motion seeking an order [move] (1)[to] conditionally certifying this case as a collective class action; (2)[to] requir[e]ing the Defendant, HEDDEN ENTERPRISES, INC. d/b/a INFINITY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS (hereinafter “Defendant”), to produce and disclose all of the names[,] and last known addresses [,] and telephone numbers of the [each] potential C[c]lass M[m]embers so that notice may be implemented; and (3)[to] authoriz[e]ing notice by U.S. First Class mail to all [of this action to each] similarly situated persons employed by Defendant within the past three (3) years[.] to inform them of the pendency of this suit and to inform them of their right to opt-in to this lawsuit. In support of this Motion, Plaintiffs sets forth the following facts and provides this Court with a Memorandum of Law in support of the Motion, and asserts as follows:
To this:
Plaintiffs move (1) to conditionally certify a collective action; (2) to require the Defendant to produce the name, address, and telephone number of each potential class member; and (3) to authorize notice of this action to each similarly situated person employed by Defendant within three years.
Concentrating on the elimination of redundancy, verbosity, and legalism (see, e.g., Bryan A. Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2d ed.2002)), the plaintiffs may submit a twenty-five-page motion on or before August 15, 2012.
ORDERED.

Big tip of the hat to Above the Law.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2012/11/florida-judge-benchslaps-attorney-for-exceeding-page-limit-and-poor-editing-.html

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