LASC’s 2020 Annual Report
Appellate Judges Education Institute, Nov. 11– 14

For e-filers, a cautionary tale

Here is “a cautionary tale for every attorney who litigates in the era of e-filing.” In federal court, a defendant in a personal-injury suit filed a motion for summary judgment. The court’s e-filing system sent an email to the plaintiff’s counsel with the docketing notice and a hyperlink to the defendant’s motion; this email constituted service of the motion. Unfortunately for the plaintiff and his attorney, the attorney’s email system sent that email to a spam folder instead of the attorney’s in-box. Result: the court granted the summary judgment as unopposed and, later, denied the plaintiff’s Rule 59 motion. The U.S. Fifth Circuit affirmed. The Fifth Circuit reasoned that the email glitch was not grounds for relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 because plaintiff’s counsel was in the best position to make sure that his own email system was functioning properly. The Fifth Circuit also suggested that the plaintiff’s counsel could have learned about the motion by monitoring the district court’s PACER docket. Rollins v. Home Depot USA, Inc., No. 20-50736 (5th Cir. Aug. 9, 2021).

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