Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Payne (Appellant), brought a personal injury admiralty suit and identified in a pretrial memo, which the judge relied on in his pretrial report, the condition Appellant was relying on to prove his cause of action. At trial, Appellant’s attorney stated a different condition was responsible for the action. The trial court disallowed this showing as well as the presentation of two witnesses for Appellant who were not included in Appellant’s pretrial memo.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Attorneys at the pretrial stage owe a duty to the court and opposing counsel to make a full and fair disclosure of their views as to what the real issues at trial will be.
Nothing in the rule affords basis for clubbing the parties into admissions they do not willingly make; but it is a way of advancing the trial ultimately to be had by setting forth the points on which the parties are agreed after a conference directed by a trained judge.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether a court can disallow an amendment to a pretrial memorandum that states a different basis as its cause of action and omits witnesses to be presented at trial.
Held. Yes. Attorneys at the pretrial stage owe a duty to the court and opponents to make a full and fair disclose as to what issues will arise at trial. The judge could not allow the amendment because the pretrial procedure routine in the Eastern District was enforced strictly. District court decree affirmed.
Discussion. The Appellant was not forced into an admission he did not want to make. The Appellant voluntarily stated his basis of claim in the pretrial memo and never once objected to its presence in the judge’s report. The Appellant had five and a half months up until trial to make objections and never did. Courts take the pretrial processes very seriously, hence, the reason why the judge could not allow the amendment.