By: Jonathan R. Huffman, Esq.
Too often, attorneys or unrepresented parties get away with attaching unnecessary exhibits to pleadings. This is sometimes done to embarrass the opposing party. For example, I recently took over a case in which the previous lawyers attached things like dating app profiles and sexting messages to their respective pleadings, and I was aghast that no one moved to challenge those filings. In other cases, I have seen unnecessary exhibits included just to let the opposing party know that the evidence is formidable, or to advertise certain facts to third parties or the public at large. You don’t have to put up with such tactics.
Rights Afforded by the Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 1.130(a), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, requires that any instruments or contracts sued upon be attached to the pleading or incorporated therein, but it also cautions litigants that “[n]o documents shall be unnecessarily annexed as exhibits.” Pursuant to the Rule, unless something is an instrument or agreement sued upon, it should not be attached to a pleading. If the exhibit is, at best, merely evidence concerning some claim, or, at worst, inflammatory material meant to embarrass or intimidate you, or for some other ulterior purpose, consider having it stricken by the Court under Rules 1.130(a) and 1.140(f), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
If you do, please note that Rule 1.140(f), which empowers the Court to strike any unnecessary, redundant, or scandalous material from a pleading, does not toll your obligation to respond to the rest of the pleading the way that a substantive motion to dismiss would. In other words, moving to strike exhibits does not relieve you from the obligation to respond to the rest of the pleading in a timely manner while that motion is pending. But it is still sometimes worth doing, in combination with the other response.
If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Boatman Ricci at (239) 330-1494.
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