Last week, two different federal appellate courts dismissed cases where attorneys did not comply with e-filing rules. Here are some tips based on the rulings in those cases:
1. Make sure you’re filing the right document.
In the first case, the plaintiff filed what it thought was a notice of appeal on December 26, five days before the deadline on December 31. However, the document was instead a request for oral argument that had been mistakenly been filed. The electronic docket showed that the plaintiff had been notified of it’s mistake and that the plaintiff had refiled within five working days (in accordance with local rules). The 5th Circuit ruled that the plaintiff’s appeal had to be dismissed without any consideration on the merits because the request for oral argument did not constitute a notice of appeal and because the local rule did not operate to extend the applicable deadline.
Read the 5th Circuit Opinion, Kinsley v. Lakeview Regional Medical Center, from June 3, 2009 on Fastcase. (The link will bring you to our homepage, login to go directly to the opinion.)
2. An accidentally deleted email is not an excuse for missing a deadline.
In the second case, the losing party claimed to have not received the email notifying them that the trial court had issued a final order. At an evidentiary hearing, the court determined that the losing party’s email system had received the email, and that someone at the law firm must have accidentally deleted the email leaving no record of it. The 8th Circuit determined that this was not a legitimate excuse for filing to file a notice of appeal in a timely fashion.
Read the opinion, American Boat Company, Inc. v. Unknown Sunken Barge, from June 4, 2009 on Fastcase. (The link will bring you to our homepage, login to go directly to the opinion.)
If you’re interested, the ABA has a list of electronic filing court rules for select jurisdictions here.