Tort lawsuit named wrong state, described living complainant as dead

Details, always with the picky details: in an opinion written by Justice Jay Mitchell, the Supreme Court of Alabama has thrown out as untimely a tort suit filed against Janssen Biotech Inc. claiming injury from the side effects of a medication. [Charmaine Little, Chamber-backed Legal Newsline] Timeliness wasn’t the only problem with the suit, drafted by the complainant’s attorney wife:

Mitchell noted in the ruling that it was “apparent” from a review of the original complaint that it was copied from another complaint.

“The complaint included numerous factual and legal errors, including an assertion that Tim was dead even though he is alive and claims invoking the laws of Indiana even though that state has no apparent connection to this litigation,” Mitchell wrote.


  • The evils of computers and word processors. Too easy to cut and paste a full complaint without reading it. In the good old days somebody would have had to manually type it up and might have noticed a few discrepancies (even a secretary might notice the state is wrong).

    • “even a secretary”? : )

      You don’t have to go back to the “good old days” of manual typewriters*.

      As someone who used to proofread multiple iterations of mutual fund prospectuses and SAIs for consistency of form and accuracy of content, I’d suggest that this wifely lawyer (lawyerly wife?) learn to use [a very careful] “search and replace” and to do a final search for wanna-eliminate words before saving a final copy intended for filing. And then do another one with that other word you just thought of….

      * Do you have any idea how onerous it used to be to type up an original and 3 carbon copies of a will and then have the lawyer say, “Let’s insert another paragraph on page 2”?

  • In my (admittedly, non-lawyerly) experience, judges rarely pay any attention to such drafting errors, even when they are brought to their attention, and often reward cut and paste boilerplate with both outrageous hours/fee calculations, and sometimes lodestar as well in fee shifting litigation.

    At least, that was my experience across multiple states in the area of “Lemon law” / Magnuson-Moss litigation regarding automobile warranties for most of two decades.

    I suspect the only reason this came to public attention was the undeniably living status of plaintiff, notwithstanding the pleadings.