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ALI v. XING

District of Columbia Court of Appeals.


April 9, 1998

MOHAMMADMED ALI, APPELLANT
V.
WENXUE XING, APPELLEE.

APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR COURT, RICHARD S. SALZMAN, J.

Before Reid, Associate Judge, and Pryor and Kern, Senior Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam.

This is an appeal from an Order Dismissing Complaint With Prejudice the trial court entered on November 18, 1996, because appellant's attorney appeared that day at 9:20 a.m. for the trial of a personal injury action *fn1 [708 A2d Page 267]

although the parties and their counsel had been earlier instructed in writing that "Trial of the case is set for 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1996. Unless otherwise advised by the Court, all parties and counsel must be present in Courtroom 519 at that time ready to commence trial." *fn2

The attorney sought to justify his tardiness by an affidavit in which he asserted that on the morning in question he had left his home in Rockville at 7:30 a.m., that normally the drive from his home to the Moultrie Courthouse takes an hour at most, but on this particular morning unexpected traffic delays caused him to arrive at the Courthouse at 9:05 a.m., where he encountered a long line of persons waiting to enter through security. We agree with the conscientious trial judge that the attorney's "actions are certainly negligent." However, given the availability to the court of other possible sanctions, we are constrained under the particular facts and circumstances here to conclude that the court erred in imposing the Draconian sanction of dismissal with prejudice under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 39-I(b). *fn3 Accordingly, the Order appealed from is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded.


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