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Bad Day at the Office: Court Chides Defendant’s Spelling and Grammar Errors in Denying Motion to Dismiss TCPA Suit

Pro tip: Don’t misspell the word “declaration” in a caption in federal court.

That may be the most important lesson TCPAWorld can learn from the recent decision of Abante Rooter & Plumbing, Inc. v. First Std. Fin. Co. LLC, Case No. 18-cv-05003-JD, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67151 (N.D. Cal. April 15, 2020). There the court denied a Defendant’s motion to dismiss but not before chiding the Defendant’s counsel—calling him out by name in the opinion—for submitting a brief “riddled with spelling mistakes and ungrammatical sentences, and offer only the most generic of legal arguments and case citations.” So much ouch. And if that weren’t enough, the Court notes that “a good argument can be made that the motion should be stricken as unacceptable under the professional standards expected of an attorney admitted to practice in this District.”

Keep this stuff in mind folks.

Nonetheless, the court elects to consider the substance of the motion—with a derisive “mainly in the interest of moving this case along”—and concludes that the allegations of the complaint fairly place blame for the alleged conduct at the Defendant’s feet. Although the motion to dismiss argued, in essence, that the Plaintiff had named the wrong party the Court had little trouble concluding that the allegations—assumed to be true—were sufficient to state a claim against the named Defendant. Interestingly, the court suggested that the mere allegation that Defendants were “affiliates, owned and operated as a joint enterprise” was sufficient to state a claim for vicarious liability, which appears to be contrary to the weight of authority on the issue. (Generally corporate parents are not liable for the actions of subsidiaries in TCPA cases, and vice versa.) So this might be a “bad briefing makes bad law” sort of situation.

Out of curiosity—I am always curious as you know—I pulled the brief that drew the court’s ire. You can read it here: FSF Brief. It misspells the word “Declaration” in the caption. And this is a subject header: “PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULES OF CIVILE PROCEDURES RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDUE 12(b) (2), (3), and (6) FIRST STANADFINANCIAL COMPANY MUST BE DISMISSED.” [sic][sic][sic][sic]. Sick.

Have to do better than that in federal court TCPAWorld. Happy weekend.

© Copyright 2021 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 109
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About this Author

Eric Troutman Class Action Attorney
Of Counsel

Eric Troutman is one of the country’s prominent class action defense lawyers and is nationally recognized in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation and compliance. He has served as lead defense counsel in more than 70 national TCPA class actions and has litigated nearly a thousand individual TCPA cases in his role as national strategic litigation counsel for major banks and finance companies. He also helps industry participants build TCPA-compliant processes, policies, and systems.

Eric has built a national litigation practice based upon deep experience, rigorous...

213-689-6510
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