Month: August 2012

9th Circuit Awards Section 1927 Sanctions Against Lawyer – Not His Clients

SAVE THE PEAKS COALITION v. US Forest Service, Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 2012 – Google Scholar.

Plaintiffs filed this case against the United States Forest Service and lost.

The Ninth Circuit sanctioned a lawyer pursuant to Section 1927. However, the court declined to sanctions the plaintiffs because it concluded that they were misled by their lawyer. This type of finding is unusual, but is noteworthy. There may be other cases where the clients can escape sanctions where they can show that the lawyer was at fault.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

Allegations of Grand Conspiracy Net $25,000 Sanctions Award

Erwin v. Russ, Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit 2012 – Google Scholar.

This case alleged an improbable vast conspiracy against many defendants. The district court granted the defendants $25,000 sanctions. The Fifth Circuit affirmed.

“By finding that every claim should be dismissed, identifying the multitude of superfluous defendants, and pointing to the filing of this suit in multiple district courts, the district court justified its imposition of sanctions. The Plaintiffs and their attorney opened themselves up to the possibility that they would be forced to pay attorney’s fees and sanctions by filing frivolous claims against parties only tangentially related to the alleged conspiracy. The district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $25,000 in fees and sanctions.”

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

5th Circuit Reverses Sanction Of Dismissal Because Court Failed to Consider Lesser Sanctions

Webb v. MORELLA, Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit 2012 – Google Scholar.

The plaintiffs filed a civil rights lawsuit against their lawyer, who was also apparently a government official. The defendant, Morella, moved to dismiss and filed a motion for Rule 11 sanctions. Plaintiffs failed to timely respond. The district court granted the motion to dismiss and granted the sanctions motion. The Fifth Circuit held that the dismissal sanction was too harsh because lesser sanctions were not considered. The delay by plaintiffs was “short,” only six weeks and the case had been pending for only three months.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.