RULE 11. SIGNING OF PLEADINGS, MOTIONS AND OTHER PAPERS; REPRESENTATIONS TO COURT; SANCTIONS
(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, must be signed by the party. Each paper must contain the signer's address and telephone number, if any. If the person signing the paper is an attorney, the paper must also contain the attorney's State Board of Law Examiners identification number. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. An unsigned paper must be stricken unless omission of the signature is corrected promptly after being called to the attention of the attorney or party.
(b) Representation to court. By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,--
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.
(c) Sanctions. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that subdivision (b) has been violated, the court may, subject to the conditions stated below, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated subdivision (b) or are responsible for the violation.
(1) How initiated.
(A) By motion. A motion for sanctions under this rule must be made separately from other motions or requests and must describe the specific conduct alleged to violate subdivision (b). The motion, brief, and any other supporting papers, must be served as provided in N.D.R.Civ.P. 5, but must not be filed with or presented to the court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion (or such other period as the court may prescribe), the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not withdrawn or appropriately corrected. The respondent shall have 10 days after a motion for sanctions is filed to serve and file an answer brief and other supporting papers. If warranted, the court may award to the party prevailing on the motion the reasonable expenses and attorney's fees incurred in presenting or opposing the motion. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm shall be held jointly responsible for violations committed by its partners, associates, and employees.
(B) On court's initiative. On its own initiative, the court may enter an order describing the specific conduct that appears to violate subdivision (b) and directing an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why it has not violated subdivision (b) with respect thereto.
(2) Nature of sanction; limitations. A sanction imposed for violation of this rule must be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Subject to the limitations in subparagraphs (A) and (B), the sanction may consist of, or include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or, if imposed on motion and warrant for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorney's fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation.
(A) Monetary sanctions may not be awarded against a represented party for a violation of subdivision (b)(2).
(B) Monetary sanctions may not be awarded on the court's initiative unless the court issues its order to show cause before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party which is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.
(3) Order. When imposing sanctions, the court shall describe the conduct determined to constitute a violation of this rule and explain the basis for the sanction imposed.
(d) Inapplicability to discovery. Subdivisions (a) through (c) of this rule do not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions that are subject to the provisions of N.D.R.Civ.P. 26 through 37.
Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 1986; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1996; March 1, 1997.
Rule 11 governs to the extent N.D.R.Ct. 11 and N.D.R.Ct. 3.2, conflict.
Rule 11 was revised, effective March 1, 1996, in response to the 1993 revision of Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. North Dakota's rule differs from the federal rule in the following respects: 1) North Dakota's rule requires attorneys to cite their State Board of Law Examiners identification number when signing papers; and 2) North Dakota's rule does not require allegations or denials to be specifically identified when immediate evidentiary support is lacking.
SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of September 28-29, 1995, pages 2-3; April 27-28, 1995, pages 3-4; January 26-27, 1995, pages 8-10; September 29-30, 1994, pages 24-26; April 20, 1989, page 2; December 3, 1987, page 11; April 26, 1984, pages 25-26; January 20, 1984, pages 16-18; September 20-21, 1979, page 7; Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.
Superseded: N.D.R.C. 1943 §§ 28-0720, 28-3001.
CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Ct. 11.1 (Nonresident Attorneys); N.D.C.C. §§ 28-26-01 (Attorney's Fees by Agreement--Exceptions--Awarding Costs and Attorney's Fees to Prevailing Party), and 28-26-31 (Pleadings Not Made in Good Faith).