A number of California attorneys I have spoken to over the years have complained about “Los Angeles attorneys” — asserting that attorneys practicing in the City of Angels are afflicted more than most with “attack-dog” syndrome and a lack of professionalism an civility. Los Angeles certainly does not have a monopoly on this type of practice, but when you confront attorneys like this, you have to wonder why the courts do not take some action to address the problem.
Well, apparently, there is a line you cannot cross — even in LA. The Court of Appeal in Stephen Slesinger, Inc. v. Walt Disney Company upheld dismissal of the plaintiff’s case as an appropriate sanction for “egregious” misconduct. At issue in the case were some unique, and illegal, discovery practices — including breaking and entering.
One can hope that one day, members of our profession will assert themselves and insist on professionalism, civility, and ethical practices. Until then, however, it is nice to know that the courts are occassionally willing to step in to put a halt to “litigation misconduct run wild.”