Hadsell Stormer Wins Sanctions For Opposing Attorney’s Abusive & Sexist Conduct

It is a sad reality of the legal system that the latent sexism that persists in society infects our profession much more than we are comfortable acknowledging. Yet the surprising lack of established case law concerning attorneys’ sexism suggests such misconduct is far too often ignored. When given the opportunity to address a particularly blatant example of such misconduct in a case my law firm is litigating, me and my colleagues took it-both to punish the abusive behavior towards a member of our legal team, and to contribute to the building case law that takes a firm stance against discovery misconduct and sexist behavior. In Joshua Claypole v. County of San Mateo, et al., a federal civil rights action challenging the conditions of confinement and medical treatment of a mentally ill inmate in Monterey County, our co-counsel, Lori Rifkin, was on the receiving end of a sexist attack by our opposing counsel as well as a host of deposition abuses direct at her. We sought court intervention to punish the attorney for the misconduct. In response, the court issued a strongly worded order excoriating the attorney for his sexist remarks and his discovery malfeasance, and ordered us significant sanctions as a result. A copy of the motion filed and the judge’s order are attached below. We are confident that our actions in seeking sanctions will set a strong precedent that such behavior by attorneys will not and should not be tolerated by other attorneys and by judges.

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