Prassenos v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company et al
Order STRIKING 55 Suggestion of Death filed by Emma Prassenos, as set out in order. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 10/27/2014. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
E.I. DU PONT DE MOURS AND CO., et al., )
CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-00419-KD-C
This action is before the Court on the suggestion of death of Plaintiff Emma Prassenos pursuant
to Rule 25(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 55).
Rule 25(a)(1) provides as follows:
If a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may order substitution of the
proper party. A motion for substitution may be made by any party or by the decedent's
successor or representative. If the motion is not made within 90 days after service of a
statement noting the death, the action by or against the decedent must be dismissed.
Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 25(a)(1). Under the Rule, serving a “statement noting the death”, i.e., a suggestion of
death, triggers a ninety (90) day period during which a motion for substitution should be filed. The Rule
does not specifically identify who has authority to serve the statement, but does state that a motion for
substitution may be made by a party or by the decedent’s successor or representative. At least one district
court has interpreted this Rule to render a suggestion of death as ineffective unless it was filed and served
by a party or a successor or representative of the decedent, and not effective if filed by the deceased
plaintiff’s counsel. The district court explained as follows:
The statement of death filed by Plaintiff's counsel was not filed on the record by one
having authority to do so. At the time it was filed Plaintiff's counsel represented the
decedent Arthur Schmidt and had not yet been retained by Dennis Schmidt the personal
Filing a suggestion of death on the record has a very narrow role-it commences the 90
day period within which a motion for substitution must be filed. [ ] As such, it serves the
adversarial function of expediting the substitution of deceased parties. “In practice, it is
not unusual for a defendant to suggest death upon the record to impose upon the
plaintiff's side the obligation to move for the substitution of a party, as a tactical
maneuver of an adversary premised upon expediting the action or getting it dismissed.” [
] On the other hand, it would be highly unusual for a representative of a deceased
plaintiff to file a suggestion of death since doing so is not a prerequisite to filing a motion
for substitution and would otherwise be contrary to the interests of the deceased party's
estate. [ ]
Accordingly, because the act of filing a statement of death on the record has the potential
to have a dispositive impact on the underlying litigation, only statements of death filed by
persons acting with authority should be given effect under Rule 25(a).
While Rule 25(a) does not explicitly specify who may properly serve the suggestion of
death, courts have construed the rule so as to allow the suggestion to be filed by any of
the same persons who are permitted to move for substitution. [ ] Thus, a suggestion of
death is ineffective under Rule 25(a) unless it is filed by either a party, or by a
representative of the deceased party. [ ]
Schmidt v. Merrill Lynch Trust Co., 2008 WL 2694891, *2 (M.D. Fla. Jun. 30, 2008) (footnotes omitted)
(noting 3B Moore’s Federal Practice § 25.13).
Charles J. Potts and Robert J. Winicki filed the suggestion of death as counsel for plaintiff
Prassenos. Counsel did not indicate whether they have been retained by a successor or representative of
Prasenos, the deceased party. Rather, counsel stated only that “[i]t is anticipated that an administrative
decedent’s Estate will be opened in an appropriate jurisdiction on behalf of Ms. Prassenos’ heirs, her two
sons, at which time said Estate will move to be substituted for that of the named Plaintiff pursuant to Rule
25[.]” (Doc. 55 at 1). In sum, counsel has not filed a motion for substitution on behalf of a successor or
Because the Court is uncertain as to whether Potts and/or Winicki, as counsel for
Prassenos, have authority to file and serve1 the suggestion of death (Doc. 55), it is STRICKEN.
DONE and ORDERED this the 27th day of October 2014.
/s/ Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Under Rule 25(a)(3), service of a statement noting death must be served upon a party pursuant to Rule 5
and on non-parties such as the decedent’s successor or representative pursuant to Rule 4. The certificate of service
on the suggestion of death does not indicate such service on non-parties. (Doc. 55 at 2). Hence, there is nothing
before the Court to indicate whether counsel served the suggestion of death upon Prassenos’
successor/representative (or anticipated successor/representative such as her two sons).
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