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Illinois Appellate Court Sanctions Lawyers For Failing To Disclose Contrary Authority

This is an unpublished case, captioned, In re Marriage of Marie Brinkley v. Leonard Przysucha, 2014 Ill App (1st) 131397-U. The case is a dispute over child support obligations. The respondent allegedly had a large balance of unpaid child support. The petitioner, however, had obtained a bankruptcy discharge and did not disclose the child support claim in her bankruptcy petition.

The leading case on the issue is Berge v. Mader, 2011 IL App (1st) 103778. In that case, the court held that the petitioner was judicially estopped from pursuing the child support claim because she failed to disclose it in her bankruptcy papers.

In the Brinkley case, which is arguably identical, the lawyers for petitioner did not disclose the contrary authority and were sanctioned. The Court explained: ”

ΒΆ 5 Had petitioner fronted a discussion of Berge in her opening brief, she could have argued that it was distinguishable and that the trial court was wrong on the law. We do not believe such an argument would have been entirely frivolous. Therefore, we do not find that awarding respondent the attorney fees and costs incurred in the preparation of respondent’s brief is appropriate. Instead, we determine that a flat sanction in the amount of $1,000 is warranted and that this amount should be paid to respondent within 30 days of the date of this order.”

Courts are beginning to do a better job of punishing litigants who do not disclose contrary authority.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.