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Sanctions for Frivolous Civil Appeals in Louisiana

40 Pages Posted: 20 May 2015  

Gail S. Stephenson

Southern University Law Center

Date Written: January 31, 2015

Abstract

The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure was adopted in 1961, and four years later the Louisiana Supreme Court handed down the first case setting the standard for awarding sanctions for frivolous civil appeals under article 2164. The court adopted an extremely liberal subjective standard, i.e., sanctions could be awarded only if the appeal was taken solely for delay or if appellant’s counsel was obviously insincere. Louisiana courts have followed this standard for the past fifty years.

Frivolous appeals waste the courts’ time and diminish the resources available for consideration of serious appeals. Although sanctions could deter frivolous appeals, Louisiana courts rarely award them; when they do, the sanctions are paltry. The author examined the 884 Louisiana cases seeking frivolous-appeal sanctions between 1985 and 2015 and discovered that Louisiana courts awarded sanctions in less than ten percent of the cases in which they were sought — fewer than three awards per year, on average.

The fault for the low number of sanctions rests partly with the attorneys who fail to follow proper procedure. The author found procedural deficiencies accounted for sixteen percent of the denials (128 of 801) in that same thirty-year period. The most common deficiency was failing to answer the appeal or file a cross appeal.

This article examines the standard applied by Louisiana courts, the circumstances under which frivolous-appeal sanctions will be awarded, the procedural issues attorneys encounter, the types of sanctions awarded, the treatment of pro se litigants, and the ethical issues that arise. It concludes with suggestions for the court and legislature — that the courts apply a more objective standard and award greater sanctions and that the legislature amend the Code of Civil Procedure to extend the period to request sanctions and to allow sanctions when appeals are dismissed as abandoned.

Keywords: Louisiana civil procedure, Sanctions, Damages, Frivolous appeal, Article 2164

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Stephenson, Gail S., Sanctions for Frivolous Civil Appeals in Louisiana (January 31, 2015). Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 1125, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2608067

Gail S. Stephenson (Contact Author)

Southern University Law Center ( email )

P.O. Box 9294
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
United States

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