Test your Knowledge of Civil Procedure

Mrs. Cartman, worried that her ten-year old son Eric was starting to run with a “bad crowd,” was grateful when a job transfer moved them from her life-long home in South Park, Colorado to Bethesda, Maryland. The family leased a home in a gated community, Azalea Estates, that seemed quiet, with very few children. The houses in Azalea Estates surrounded a large garden. Although residents often jog, read, and picnic on the flower-edged plots and paths, a hand-painted sign at the entrance to the fenced garden reads: “NO CHILDREN ALLOWED.”

The gardener and his shut-in wife live in the house facing the garden entrance, and keep a watchful eye on it. After a month of abstinence, Eric could stay way no more. On April 1, 2003, he and his pet pig Fluffy snuck into the forbidden garden and began rooting up the soil. When the gardener spotted Eric, he rushed out of his house, waving his arms and shouting, “Trespasser! Security! I’ll have you thrown out!”
Frightened, Eric jumped onto his fancy Devil Deck skateboard, grabbed Fluffy, and attempted escape over a cobblestone path. They crashed when a wheel on the skateboard fell off. The Azalea Estates security guard was the first person on the scene. He calmed everyone down and interviewed the gardener and Eric. He ordered Eric out of the garden, and took Fluffy to the local SPCA pound. He later filed a detailed “RDI Incident Report” with his logs of his daily rounds, noting that Eric was trespassing and destroying property and that pigs were not allowed at under Azalea Estates covenants. He also observed that Eric was antisocial and appeared to be a pathological liar.

Mrs. Cartman later took Eric to the emergency room to treat a broken arm from his fall. Eric filed suit in the Federal Court in MD against Realty Development, Inc. (“RDI”) a company headquartered and incorporated in VA. RDI had leased them their Azalea Estates house and employs the security guard. The complaint alleged that RDI violated the Federal Fair Housing Act by, in part: … “15. Maintaining a public garden for the use and enjoyment of all Azalea Estates residents except for minors under the age of 18; “16. Forcibly removing Eric from the public garden at Azalea Estates on April 1, 2003; “17. Thereafter barring Eric from the garden; … It demanded damages for Eric’s medical bills as well as pain and suffering from the trauma of the incident and RDI’s alleged ongoing discrimination against children. RDI answered, denying any wrongdoing, and specifically denying each of the allegations in paragraphs 15-17 of the complaint. In addition, RDI filed a timely third party complain and summons impleading the gardener. RDI alleged that he controlled all of the Estates’ public landscaping, and that, on information and belief, the gardener had established the “no children” policy. RDI alleged that the removal of Eric from the garden on April 1, 2003 was precipitated entirely by the gardener, not RDI or its agents who merely enforced the homeowners’ wishes. Eric sought to amend his complaint to add a tort claim against the gardener for chasing him out of the garden on the day of his accident, causing him to break his arm.

How should the court rule on joining Eric’s tort claim?

Meanwhile, Eric served on RDI’s attorneys and later, after receiving no response, filed with the Court a motion seeking Rule 11 sanctions for RDI’s Answer. The Court head arguments that revealed all the facts above.

How should the Court rule on Eric's Rule 11 motion for sanctions? Why?

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Copyright © 2015, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved