• June 21, 2011

Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals made clear that a rigid adherence to the rules of civil procedure will not insulate a lawyer/litigant from being sanctioned in the form of  “conduct-based” attorneys fees in Chapter 518 of Minnesota statutes (“Marriage Dissolution”).

“The fact that husband did not violate a rule of civil procedure does not make the award of attorneys fees improper.”

Every civil litigator knows that the rules of civil procedure may be (and, sadly, too often are) exploited “to unreasonably contribute to the length or expense of the proceeding,” to paraphrase the Marriage Dissolution fee-shifting statute.

It seems appropriate, and even important, therefore, for courts to have the discretion to lower the boom on a litigant paying lip service to court rules, using court rules not to invoke or protect legitimate objectives but rather to slow or subvert the efficacy of court proceedings.

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