United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. JOLIE JOHNSON and DEBBIE HELMLY, Plaintiffs,
SPANISH OAKS HOSPICE, INC., et al., Defendants.
in this False Claims Act case have moved the Court to
reconsider its Order granting defendants' motion to file
a reply -- or, as they correctly point out, a sur-reply --
providing further argument on relators' Amended
Complaint. Doc. 62. They cite authority from the
Middle District of Georgia disfavoring such sur-replies.
Id. at 2 (citing, inter alia, Sanford
v. Walmart, Inc., 2016 WL 5662029 at * 9 (M.D. Ga. Sept.
29, 2016)). In this Court, however, “‘[p]arties
may file as many reply briefs as they like . . .
.'” Lee-Lewis v. Kerry, 2016 WL 6647937 at
* 4 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 8, 2016) (quoting Brown v.
Chertoff, 2008 WL 5190638 at * 2 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 10,
2008)). Defendants' request, therefore, was granted as a
matter of course. Given this Court's policy, it
DENIES relators' request to
reconsider. Doc. 62.
the unlimited-reply-brief policy allows defendants'
proposed reply, relators raise a legitimate concern about
possible abuse. See doc. 62 at 1-2. Relators protest
that defendants have “blackballed them from working in
their [sic] hospice profession, ” thus increasing their
interest in prompt resolution of their claims. Id.
at 1. Further, they accuse the defendants of adopting a
“scorched earth / eternal delay of discovery”
strategy. Id. Those are serious
motion for reconsideration is simply not the forum to
litigate realtors' concerns. If they contend that someone
is maliciously interfering with their employment -- their
brief does not clearly allege how they were
“blackballed” or who is responsible -- they may
have a tort claim. Such a possible claim, however, is
irrelevant to this case. Their claim that defendants'
motion is purely dilatory implicates Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 (b)(1) (attorney's
signature on motion certifies, among other things, that the
motion “is not being presented for any improper
purpose, such as to . . . cause unnecessary delay, or
needlessly increase the cost of litigation.”). That
Rule, subject to its procedural requirements, see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2), provides relators with a remedy.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(4). Neither alternative,
however, undermines the propriety of defendants submitting a
the Court will not reconsider its Order or its
unlimited-reply-brief policy, relators' concerns merit
additional discussion. They contend that an “endless
volley” of briefs is antithetical to the “just,
speedy, and inexpensive determination” of
actions. Doc. 62 at 1 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).
They're absolutely right. However, this Court relies on
the judgement and professionalism of the members of its bar,
and the deterrent effect of Rule 11, to avoid interminable or
frivolous arguments. The Court's long experience with its
policy has justified that reliance, and shown that it does
not unduly interfere with the speedy and inexpensive
resolution of cases. It also ensures that parties are able to
make the case they wish and are not penalized for failing to
exhaustively anticipate their opponents' responses. That,
in turn, ensures that actions are resolved as justly as
possible. To the extent that there is a tension between those
values, the Court errs on the side of justice. However, it
will not hesitate to invoke Rule 11 to remedy any apparent
 While relators' motion to
reconsider was pending, defendants have filed their reply.
 The relators, like the defendants, are
allowed by the Court's unlimited-reply-brief policy to
file their own response, subject to Local Rule 7.6, if they
believe it is warranted. Their request to lift the stay,
however, is DENIED. Doc. 62 at 2. The Court
trusts that the argument about the proposed amendment will
not be, as they suggest, “endless.” Id.
Discovery was stayed pending resolution of the
defendants' dismissal motions. See doc. 47 at 4.
If the outcome of the current amendment dispute renders those
motions moot, the stay may be reevaluated.
 Although the Court agrees that there
have been delays, perhaps unnecessary ones, in resolving
relators' proposed amendment, they have not been
exclusively caused by defendants. Notably, the Court granted
relators' counsel's requested extension of the
deadline to respond to defendants' opposition. Doc. 58
(extending deadline from August 15, 2017 through August 31,
2017). Given that at least some of the “delay”
relators protest is attributable to that extension, the
emphatic tone of their motion seems excessive.
 Relators' motion implies that they
would be disadvantaged if they do not “have the last
word.” See doc. 62 at 4 n. 2. That's not
true. They rightly point out that “each party acts as a
check on the other . . ., ” in our adversarial system.
Id. But, their suggestion that defendants might
derive an illegitimate advantage by unrebutted
characterizations of authority fails to recognize that,
whoever gets the last word, the Court determines the outcome.
That determination is based on a careful consideration of the
parties' arguments and their supporting
authority. The Court expects attorneys will not
misrepresent authority, but it also recognizes that they ...