Trials & Litigation

Federal judge should not have tossed case over late-filed document, 9th Circuit says

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Manuel Real

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real in 2016. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real acted too harshly when he tossed a case because a document was filed a week past the deadline, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco.

Real, who died in June at the age of 95, “was known for his pleasant manner in social settings but abrasiveness on the bench,” according to a July 1 obituary by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. An effort to impeach him in 2006 did not succeed.

In the case before the 9th Circuit, Real tossed a suit by a frozen yogurt franchisee for what he deemed to be a “pattern of repeated [filing] errors and local rule violations” that suggested “more than mere inadvertence.”

That conclusion is not supported by the record, the 9th Circuit said in an unpublished Feb. 7 decision. Law360 has coverage.

The franchisee, the Cantran Group Inc., “had no history of delay and promptly corrected deficiencies in its filings that the district court flagged,” the appeals court.

Real tossed Cantran’s case in September 2018 because the franchisee was a week late in filing briefs opposing a motion to dismiss. The late-filed opposition briefs also violated a local rule limiting briefs and memoranda to 25 pages, Real said.

Real denied a motion for consideration in November 2018.

According to the 9th Circuit, Real could have considered less drastic measures such as striking the opposition briefs or extending the defendants’ time to respond to those briefs.

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