Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things You Don't Want The First Circuit Saying About You On The Record

The Widget:

Court: First Circuit
Judge: Stahl
Subject: ERISA*
Tone: Justifiably ornery
Importance: 3.9

Credibility is precious in this line of work. So the First Circuit’s statement on page 13 in Gillis v. SPX Corp. Individual Acct. Retirement Plan, No. 07-1777, has to make you cringe just a little bit:

[The appellant’s ] argument on appeal that the district court should have somehow made this comparison itself, without [the appellant] providing the court with the relevant argumentation and data, betrays a misapprehension of our adversarial system and the burden he carried as a plaintiff opposing summary judgment before the district court.

The “comparison” referenced here is the difference between the retirement payout the plaintiff claimed he was owed and what he actually received. But that’s not so significant. What’s significant is that the First Circuit accuses the appellant’s counsel of misunderstanding a bedrock rule of civil procedure and, indeed, the entire system of American civil litigation itself. As Instapundit would say, “Ouch.”

*For the uninitiated (thank your lucky stars), the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act”.

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