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Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Using Screenplay Format in Complaint

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It was a dark and stormy night for attorney Ilya Liviz.

Frustrated with courts turning down his appeals, he decided to file a complaint written in the form of a screenplay. In the end, the court was not entertained.

Liviz faces sanctions for the "novel" complaint and potentially filing frivolous complaints. He said he just wanted an audience.

Frustrated Screenwriters

Like many frustrated screenwriters, Liviz thought he had a winner. He filed his suit on behalf of a client he called "Grandma" in the complaint.

"Normal sunny day, people are smiling as they are going in and out of the local store," the story begins.

Action follows as Grandma pulls up to the store with her husband, who gets out to go into a shop. Grandma puts the car in reverse to pull away.

"All of a sudden she hears the police siren and red and blue lights," the scene ends.

Everybody's a Critic

Judge Indira Talwani didn't like it all. She said the script format didn't meet federal procedural requirements for a "short and plain statement." (Like "a dark and stormy night?")

Also, the judge said, the court didn't have subject matter jurisdiction in the case. Liviz is trying to defeat a state court judgment with the screenplay-complaint.

Talwani said Liviz filed similar claims that had been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and next time it could be sanctions. Liviz told the ABA Journal he was just trying to get the court's attention.

Note to self: If you want to write a screenplay, don't put it in a complaint. A judge could be your toughest critic.

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