Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Due to Contumacious Conduct, Statute of Limitations

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals covers a lot of ground in this case between Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC (L-3), its former Deputy General Counsel Courtney Paine Snider, and outside counsel Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP and Charles A. Edwards. Issues between Paine Snider and L-3 began as early as 2005, but Paine Snider did not file claims against L-3 for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation until after she was terminated in 2009. In 2012 L-3 filed a counterclaim against Paine Snider and added claims against Womble and Edwards. Due to evidence of contumacious conduct including perjury and failure to produce documents, the district court dismissed Paine Snider’s claims as a sanction. The Fifth Circuit upheld this dismissal as well as the summary judgment of L-3’s claims that Womble failed to disclose the legal assistance provided by Edwards to Paine Snider. The court reversed and remanded two other claims in the case. The case serves as a reminder that the statute of limitations on legal malpractice claims begins when the malpractice is discovered, and that sanctions for a “shocking betrayal of ethical responsibilities” may include dismissal of your court case.