Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Counsel, read your e-mail from the Court, or else

In King v. Island Creek Coal Company, Chief Judge Jones refused to reconsider his ruling on a motion in limine regarding the theory of expert testimony, even though lead counsel for the plaintiff claimed that he never got the motion and knew nothing about until it was filed.

The Court noted: "This court has adopted certain procedures for filing and serving pleadings and papers by electronic means, as authorized by Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The First Motion in Limine was filed by electronic means, although the certificate of service attested that copies of the pleading had been served by mail on opposing counsel. Nevertheless, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in this case, Annesley H. DeGaris, had previously submitted an electronic case filing registration form on June 3, 2004, by which he consented to receive notice of filings pursuant to the court’s electronic filing system. Thus, when the First Motion in Limine was filed electronically by counsel for Island Creek, the system sent to Mr. DeGaris a notice to the email address designated in his registration form. In oral argument, Mr. DeGaris contended that he had not actually seen the notice of filing, because his secretary handles his email. Nevertheless, proper service of the pleading was completed on transmission. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(D)."

So, the Court concluded there was no argument that the motion was not properly served. The Court went on to conclude that there was no reason for reconsideration, anyhow.

This opinion tells me that even though the use of electronic filing is still not yet mandatory and in sort of a transitional phase, it has to be taken seriously by those who participate in it.

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