Sutherland Ordered to Pay $175K in Sanctions

Firm's attorneys tried to 'litigate plaintiff to death' in contract dispute, judge says

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Firm's attorneys tried to 'litigate plaintiff to death' in contract dispute, judge says

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Originally appeared in print as Sutherland ordered to pay $175K in sanctions

What's being said

  • Jed

    With respect to Fred from Conyers, this is clearly different than the PI attorney asking about the defendant‘s insurance--he needs to know whether or not there will be money to pay a judgment. In that case, even if the plaintiff‘s claims are valid, litigation may not be in anyone‘s best interest if there is no money to pay a judgment. In contrast, here the defense attorney‘s letter implied that, even if the defense had no legal justification to continue the litigation, it could continue to do so with impunity for the simple reason that the defendant would not have to come out of pocket for the legal fees. I applaud Judge Lopez and wish there were more judges willing to impose these fees on attorneys who engage in "litigation strateg[ies] of attrition." Unfortunately, it is a common tactic which likely also runs afoul of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1 and 3.2. I also note that attorneys themselves (who make these rules) must not think it‘s all that egregious to use attrition-litigation tactics, since the maximum punishment for their violation is a public reprimand.

  • Michael Carvalho, Esq.

    Judge Lopez spoke recently to the Environmental Law Section of the Georgia Bar and reminded all of us about the importance of a lawyer‘s role in society to foster the resolution of disputes, when possible, while maintaining professionalism and decorum. Having been on the receiving end of "scorched earth litigation tactics", to include the spoliation of evidence by the defendants and their counsel, I appreciate Judge Lopez‘s courageous decision to stand up to well heeled bullies.

  • Fred from Conyers

    I like Dax Lopez and believe him to be a decent judge, but he is clearly wrong on his interpretation of the letter. Knowing the financial and other risks versus the possible return in any litigation matter is essential to forming a reasonable strategy for proceeding. That there is insurance coverage is an important element in the calculation of how to proceed. Telling the other side that you have insurance that will cover the cost of defense in a business matter is no different than the personal injury attorney asking if the other driver has insurance.

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