Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sixth Circuit Upholds Rule 11 Sanctions Against Retired Racer Mario Andretti

The Sixth Circuit in Andretti v. Borla Performance Industries, Inc., 426 F.3d 824 (6th Cir. Oct. 21, 2005) has upheld Rule 11 sanctions imposed against Mario Andretti for persisting in the assertion of a frivolous claim under Michigan's trademark infringement statute. Michigan Compiled Laws ยงยง 429.42-- 429.43. To assert a claim under the statute, one must have a registered trademark, which Andretti did not have. Thus, he was not in a position to assert such a claim; however, Andretti did not voluntarily dismiss the claim once this was made clear but rather forced the defendant to move for summary judgment:

"The district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing Rule 11 sanctions against Andretti. In addition to failing to properly research Count VIII before filing his complaint, which would have revealed that the statute required a registered mark and that his client did not have one, Andretti's attorney prolonged the inevitable at a cost to Borla by refusing to voluntarily dismiss the count and forcing Borla to pursue a dispositive motion in order to have the claim dismissed. Furthermore, Andretti has not explained before the district court or on appeal why he did not move to amend the claim once Borla brought the original claim's deficiency to Andretti's counsel's attention."


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