P & L v. Marvel Entertainment, 493 U.S. 120 (1989)
A court is authorized to impose Rule 11 sanctions against individual attorney who signs a document—thus certifying that he has read it and that it is well grounded in fact and law—but not against signing attorney's law firm.
U.S. Supreme CourtP & L v. Marvel Entertainment, 493 U.S. 120 (1989)
Pavelic & LeFlore v. Marvel Entertainment Group,
A Division of Cadence Industries Corp.
Argued Oct. 2, 1989
Decided Dec. 5, 1989
493 U.S. 120
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 provides in pertinent part that pleadings and other papers shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, which signature shall certify that he or she has read the paper and believes it to be well grounded in fact and law; and that,
"[i]f a . . . paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court . . . shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction."
In the present case, the District Court imposed a Rule 11 monetary sanction against the law firm of the signing attorney, rejecting the firm's contention that it could be imposed only against the individual signer. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: When read in the context of all of Rule 11's signature provisions, the phrase "person who signed" connotes the individual signer mentioned at the outset of the Rule, and authorizes a court to impose a sanction only against that individual. That is so even when the individual explicitly signs on behalf of the firm, since it is only the signature "in the attorney's individual name" which complies with the Rule's requirement and to which the latter portions of the Rule attach consequences. Pp. 493 U. S. 123-127.
854 F.2d 1452 (CA 21988), reversed in part and remanded.
SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, O'CONNOR, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 493 U. S. 127.