Court of Appeal Explains Safe Harbor Period for Obtaining Sanctions

Most folks who read this blog don't care about sanctions. Like some of the courts. So, I'll make this quick. The employer settled a wrongful termination lawsuit with the employee. The employee tried to reopen the case four years after the settlement. The motion to reopen the case was frivolous.

The defendant filed a motion for sanctions because the plaintiff's motion was frivolous. To bring a motion for sanctions, you have to wait 21 days to see if the other side will withdraw its frivolous papers (called a "safe harbor"). But the court denied the plaintiff's motion too quickly to give the plaintiff the full 21-day opportunity to see the error of his ways and withdraw it. Therefore, the defendant could not successfully bring the motion for sanctions unless it (1) asked the court to delay the hearing on the frivolous motion. Or (2) the defendant could have gone into court and asked the court to shorten the "safe harbor" period. So, the defendant, victim of legally meritless litigation, has to spend more money and time changing the hearing dates too. Grrreatttt!

In fairness to the court of appeal that reversed the award of sanctions, the statute says what it says. But the statute is not a big deterrent to those who file legally frivolous papers. The Legislature probably will now go about amending it. Stop giggling.

The case is Li v. Majestic Industry Hills LLC and the opinion is here.