Weitzner v. Sanofi Pasteur Inc., No. 17-3188, ___ F.3d ___, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33226 (3d Cir. Nov. 27, 2018)

Live by the rules, die by the rules: Third Circuit approves District Court’s striking of non-compliant response to summary judgment motion.

This case is an important one governing the statute of limitations in class actions. But the second part of the opinion should be of interest to every practitioner. At summary judgment, the defendant filed the required statement of undisputed material facts. Under Local Rule 56.1 of the district court, the respondent was required to file a corresponding answer that is both devoid of argument and responsive to each assertion by the movant. The failure on either front is, under the Rule, grounds to deem the movant’s factual assertions admitted. The Third Circuit held here that the local rule is an appropriate exercise of discretion, there was no error in striking portions of the non-movant’s assertion, and deemed the movant’s asserted facts admitted for purpose of summary judgment. The opinion expressly concludes that it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court “to strike the portions it concluded were noncompliant, rather than choosing to employ a more forgiving sanction,” as it is “beyond question” that the district court had the authority to choose such relief. Weitzner is a good reminder that local rules meant to govern practice in a given court should govern also the attorneys who practice there.


Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019

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