Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enterprises
498 U.S. 533 (1991)
- Plaintiff published retail trade directories.
- To protect against copying, they place seeds, false or incorrect information in their directories. For plaintiff, finding a seed in another directory is evidence of copyright infringement.
- Plaintiff, through attorneys, files a claim against defendant and request a TRO.
- Plaintiff’s affidavits claim they found 10 seeds in defendant’s directory, but failed to pinpoint the seed in each listing
- 3 days before the TRO hearing the judge’s clerk inquired to the law firm as to the specific incorrect information in each seed. The question was forwarded to plaintiff’s Director of Research, Michael Lambe. This was apparently the first time the law firm asked their client for details of the seeds
- Lambe retracts 3 of the 10 seeds
- The law clerk takes one hour on the telephone to find that 9 of the 10 seeds had no incorrect information
- Firm prepared an affidavit signed by Lambe stating the incorrect information in each seed, but Lambe crossed one out.
- TRO application denied
- Matter referred to Magistrate t determine whether Rule 11 sanctions should be imposed:
- Client should be fined for failing to do preliminary research for TRO app.
- Firm should not be sanctioned for TRO app. because the circumstances included the need to act fast and he had no reason to think a sophisticated client’s claims were unfounded
- Both should be fined for not investigating after finding 4 seeds were not seeds
- Action dismissed w/ prejudice and costs awarded to defendant
- Affirmed by 9th Circuit
Whether Rule 11 imposes the objective standard of reasonable inquiry on a client as well as an attorney who sings pleadings, motions, or other papers.
Rule 11 imposes the objective standard of reasonable inquiry on a client as well as an attorney who sings pleadings, motions, or other papers.
Rule 11 does not distinguish between attorneys and clients in that they are both to be held to the objective standard of reasonable inquiry.
Rule(s) of Law:
* Signing denotes merit and says to the court that whatever is signed needs to be taken seriously.
New Information, questions, etc:
Before 1993 amendment to Rule 11