Walter Pierce

Third Circuit: ‘Be polite!'

by Walter Pierce

The Third Circuit Court of Appeal, in a ruling this week, admonished a pair of Lafayette attorneys for using “intemperate and insulting language” in briefs filed before the court. While the appeals panel chastised the attorneys — J. Quentin Simon and Kevin M. Dills —  it declined to cite them for contempt of court.

The case before the Third was an appeal by Macro Oil of a lower court ruling awarding Simon more than $2,500 in damages. Simon sued Macro for expenses he incurred having repairs made to a gas-powered mudboat damaged after a Macro employee inadvertently filled an underground gas tank with diesel fuel at a local service station where Simon filled the mudboats’ tanks on his way to the Atchafalaya Basin. Dills represented Macro.

According to the court ruling, Simon sought sanctions against Dills for a brief in which Dills characterized Simon as being “engaged in a scam” and “trying to get something for nothing.” The appeals court agreed the language was inappropriate, but also pointed to an accusation of perjury Simon made against another Macro lawyer in a brief Simon filed. “We find this language to be inappropriate, discourteous, and insulting as well,” Judge Jimmie C. Peters writes on behalf of the three-judge panel.

In the ruling, Peters orders the inappropriate language struck from the briefs, and adds in closing: “We further admonish the attorneys that in filing matters in this court they are expected to act within the bounds of professionalism regardless of their personal feelings arising from the litigation. The intemperate and insulting language directed toward each other is not within those bounds, and we condemn this inappropriate and unprofessional conduct. Such actions have no place in litigation before this court.”

Despite the slap on the wrist from the appeals court, Simon was the victor in the appeal. The Third Circuit upheld the lower court’s award to Simon and ordered Macro to pay court costs.