Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Deficient ECF Notice No Basis for Extending Deadline for Notice of Appeal

The court denied defendants' motion to extend time to file their notice of appeal of a $40 million judgment and rejected defendants' argument that the e-mail notice of electronic filings failed to provide sufficient notice of the court's ruling on three post-trial motions. "Defendants argue that the e-mail notice of electronic filings (NEF' s) that defense counsel received . . . only contained language regarding the Court's grant of their motions for leave to file sealed documents, but failed to mention the denial of their substantive post-trial motions. . . . Defendants note that the docket entries for the orders at issue . . . were modified . . . to reflect the denial of the substantive post-trial motions, but no new electronic notices were sent by the Court's electronic case filing (ECF) system to reflect these amended docket entries. . . . The Court finds that Rule 77(d) imposes on attorneys the responsibility to check on the status of their case. The Court notes it is every attorney's responsibility to read the substance of each order issued by the Court, and to read the order in its entirety. . . . Defense counsel admits that the orders were 'downloaded and stored' by litigation assistants in two different firms representing Defendants; yet, it appears that nobody actually read the orders. The Court finds it is not sufficient for attorneys to rely on the electronic and e-mail notifications received from the ECF system, as the docket entries and notifications do not always convey the Court's disposition in its entirety. The substance of the orders carry validity under the law, not the electronic NEFs. . . . [D]efense counsel's failure to check the docket activity or the status of the case for over 52 days does not entitle Defendants to an extension of time to file a notice of appeal under Rule 4(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure."

Two-Way Media LLC v. AT&T Inc., et al., 5-09-cv-00476 (TXWD February 6, 2014, Order) (Garcia, J.)

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