As every North Carolina litigator should know, Rule 11 of the Rules of Civil Procedure states that, by signing a pleading or “other paper” (motion, subpoena, etc.) related to the litigation, the attorney certifies that,
to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.
If an opposing party decides that the paper violates one more of these requirements—legal sufficiency, factual sufficiency, or proper purpose—that party can move the court to impose “an appropriate sanction,” which may include attorney fees and other expenses. Rule 11 does not, however, set a time limit for filing a Rule 11 motion. So when is it too late? I have been asked this question (or similar ones) a few times in recent months. The short answer, of course, is that it depends on the facts. But I thought I would share the parameters I have observed from reviewing the case law: Continue Reading