Legal Memorandum: Pretrial and Scheduling Conference Order

Issue: Under Louisiana law, what sanctions may a court impose on a party that disregards the agenda set at a scheduling conference?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Scheduling conference; Pre-trial conferences; Sanctions
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 27 So. 3d 969; 942 So. 2d 686; 752 So. 2d 841
Cited Statutes: Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure art. 1551, 1551(B), 1471(A)(2), 1551(C)
Date: 04/01/2015

The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides that the court’s order that results from the scheduling conference controls the subsequent course of the action.  Id. at art. 1551(B).  If a party’s attorney fails to obey a pretrial order, the court, on its own motion, or on the motion of a party may, after hearing, make such orders as are just, specifically including an order refusing to allow the disobedient party to support or oppose designated claims or defenses, or prohibiting that party from introducing designated matters in evidence.  Id. at arts. 1471(A)(2), 1551(C).

In addition to any other sanction, the court may require the disobedient party or its attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses incurred as a result of noncompliance with a pretrial order, including attorneys’ fees.  Id. at art. 1551(C). 

Louisiana cases illustrate these principles.  In Benware v. Means, 752 So. 2d 841 (La. 2000), for example, the Louisiana Supreme Court explained that Louisiana has had a statutory pre-trial conference procedure in place since 1950.  Id. at 845 (citing former La. Rev. Stat. 13:5151, now La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 1551).  The general purpose of the pre-trial conference is to promote the speedy and just disposition of the case, the Benware court stated.  “One of the major functions of the pre-trial conference is to require disclosure of all witnesses and evidence that the parties intend to use at trial, thereby facilitating trial preparation and preventing surprise and […]

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