Rule 11 Sanctions Awarded Where Plaintiff Litigated Baseless Claims Through Summary Judgment

In this case, Judge Aspen affirmed a decision by Magistrate Rowland to award sanctions to the defendants in false arrest Section 1983 case. The court reasoned (as did the Magistrate) that the plaintiff did not identify any evidence that the arrest lacked probable cause. Therefore, there was no basis to proceed.

The court explained its reasoning in these two paragraphs:

There was ample evidence supporting Detective Peluso’s probable cause determination, including the criminal complaints submitted by RTC industries, which were corroborated by a month-long investigation and review of video surveillance footage and other documentary evidence supporting the theft allegations. (See Summ. J. Order at 3-4, 12-13.) At the time Plaintiff filed his complaint in this matter, and through the course of discovery, Plaintiff has put forth no evidence that Detective Peluso believed or had reason to believe that the criminal complaint was false, or that the other evidence gathered during his pre-arrest investigation was not credible. (Id. at 13.) Further, as we have explained, after Detective Peluso had probable cause for an arrest, he had no constitutional obligation to continue the investigation. (Id.) What is more, Plaintiff has conceded that he took the property that precipitated the criminal complaint (he claims he was justified in doing so, although he did not inform Detective Peluso of this fact), which only further undermines any reasonable belief that Detective Peluso’s arrest was based on false information that Plaintiff took the items from RTC. (SeeDempsey Decl. (Dkt. No. 114-1) ¶ 9.) While Plaintiff points out that he was ultimately acquitted of the criminal charges against him, none of the facts or evidence he points to make his decision to continue to litigate his false arrest claim reasonable.

Because we agree with Judge Rowland that Plaintiff had no evidence to support his false arrest claim, and instead continued to posit irrelevant facts and arguments in support of his claims, we adopt the Report and find sanctions are appropriate. See Johnson, 170 F.3d at 740 (affirming sanctions award under Rule 11(b)(3) where an attorney’s “[f]ailure to withdraw or amend a counterclaim that [he] knew lacked any factual basis demonstrates that [he] never performed a reasonable inquiry into [the] counterclaim before presenting it to the court at trial”).

In sum, Rule 11 sanctions were awarded for plaintiff’s failure to drop a case that lacked evidentiary support.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

Source: Dempsey v. Nathan, Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2016 – Google Scholar

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