Rule 11 sanctions are rarely granted. In this case, the district court awarded sanctions against a plaintiff (J. Edward Kloian Foundation) that lost a lengthy state court legal fee dispute.
The Underlying Dispute In State Court
The case began in the most routine and mundane way: an attorney sued his former client for legal fees. At the end of the fee litigation, the state court judge entered a legal fee judgment against Edward Kloian. Somehow the J. Edward Kloian Foundation became involved in the state court litigation. The state court judge also held that the foundation was the alter ego of Edward Kloian and entered judgment accordingly.
The Foundation then filed suit in federal court against a number of defendants, including the judge. Because the judge had absolute immunity, the case was dismissed and the plaintiff was sanctioned.
The court explained the ruling in this way:
“It is well established that “Rule 11 sanctions are appropriate when an attorney refuses to dismiss a claim after becoming aware that it lacks merits.” Baker v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., ___ Fed. App’x. ___, 2013 WL 3968783 (6th Cir. 2013); Merritt v. International Ass’n. of Machinists, 613 F.3d 609, 628 (6th Cir. 2010) (“Rule 11 imposes a continual obligation on attorneys to refrain from pursuing meritless or frivolous claims at any stage of the proceedings . . .”).
This Court shall sanction counsel for the Foundation, who filed this action despite the fact that it is clearly barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and despite Judge Swartz being entitled to absolute judicial immunity.”
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.