Trials & Litigation

Unhappy with 'copious' footnotes, federal judge orders Hagens Berman to omit them in new brief

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A federal judge in San Jose, California, says Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro violated her standing order when it crammed the equivalent of 16 double-spaced pages into 451 lines of single-spaced footnotes.

As a result, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman ordered the law firm on Monday to file a revised brief of no more than 25 pages without a single footnote, the Recorder (sub. req.) reports.

Freeman’s standing order had provided that footnotes “are to be used sparingly and citations to textual matter shall not be used in footnotes.” Yet every page of Hagens Berman’s offending brief “contains at least two—and, on one page, eight—footnotes,” Freeman wrote (PDF). “The lines consumed by single-spaced footnotes outnumber the lines of double-spaced text on nearly half of the brief’s pages.”

Freeman notes that she has previously remarked on the use of “copious (and frankly excessive) footnotes” in the litigation.

Hagens Berman is representing website operators who claim Google shut down their accounts for sponsored ads without cause. Google claims the websites violated terms and conditions that are intended to prevent sites from generating invalid clicks to boost ad revenue. The heavily footnoted brief had opposed Google’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Hagens Berman lawyers said they hadn’t seen the standing order when they wrote the brief, and Google’s lawyers could have called the problem to their attention with a phone call rather than in an objection filed with the court.

Hagens Berman partner Robert Lopez told the Recorder that the lawyers in the litigation “look forward to re-filing and proceeding to the court’s decision on the underlying motion to dismiss.”

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