Author: eclinton

Maybe On Second Thought Don’t Remove That Case To Federal Court


Anyone who has practiced litigation law for more than ten years will run into this situation. Your client has been sued in state court. After your first court appearance, you get a bad feeling that things are not going to go well in that case. You get a great idea – “Hey we can remove this case to federal court!” There are a few pitfalls with that great idea and the case captioned Jackson County Bank v. Mathew R. DuSablon, (7th Circuit. 2/6/19) could be a refresher course in bad removal.

The Jackson County Bank sued its former employee, DuSablon, in Indiana state court. After his motion to dismiss was denied, DuSablon tried to remove the case to federal court.

The way removal works is that you file a petition to remove the case. If the federal judge believes that there is jurisdiction, you are ok. If she decides there is no jurisdiction, you can end up paying the legal fees of your opponent.

In the DuSablon case, the district judge remanded the case to state court for want of jurisdiction and untimely removal and ordered DuSablon to pay costs and fees for wrongful removal. In this case, the bill amounted to $9,035.61 under 28 U.S.C. §1447(c).

DuSablon then appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Unfortunately for him, remand orders cannot be appealed. The court did hear the appeal of the sanctions award.  Because there were only state law claims raised in the case, there was no basis to remove the case. There was “no federal question.” Removal was untimely as well. The district judge viewed the removal petition as a litigation stunt to delay the resolution of the state case.

The Seventh Circuit held that “the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that DuSable lacked an objectively reasonable basis to remove the case to federal court.” Alas, the court also allowed the Bank to file a fee petition for its fees on appeal.

In conclusion, “Ouch.”

Ed Clinton, Jr.

The Clinton Law Firm, LLC

Two Claims Dismissed But District Court Denies Rule 11 Sanctions Motion


The case is a patent case. The defendant successfully moved to dismiss two of the counts of the complaint and then sought sanctions on those two counts on the ground that the allegations were frivolous. The district court was unimpressed with the sanctions motion and denied it.

Aardvark also contends that the ‘823 and ‘675 patents are invalid, and that Bobcar’s assertion of infringement claims as to these patents was frivolous. (Dkt. No. 67 at 12-16; Dkt. No. 80 at 2-6.) As to these two patents, there is a stronger case that there is no reasonable basis for Bobcar’s assertion of validity. However, the Court need not ultimately decide whether these patents are invalid for anticipation, or whether Bobcar’s claims for their infringement violated Rule 11, because in any event, the Court would deny sanctions. See Perez, 373 F.3d at 326(affirming district court that had declined “to decide definitively whether there had been a [Rule 11] violation because even if there had been, the court would exercise its discretion to deny sanctions”).

Looking to the relevant factors, the Court determines that the “extreme measure” of Rule 11 sanctions is not warranted here. Fleming v. Hymes-Esposito, No. 12 Civ. 1154, 2013 WL 1285431, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 29, 2013).[4] Bobcar’s claims of infringement as to the two design patents at issue—’823 and ‘675—constituted only one third of its patent infringement claims, and did not implicate the Second Amended Complaint’s Lanham Act and unfair competition counts. (See SAC ¶¶ 96-97, 106-131.) Any impropriety in the assertion of the challenged claims thus did not “infect[] the entire pleading.” Cont’l Cas. Co., 2017 WL 1901969, at *7 (quoting Ho Myung Moolsan Co., 665 F. Supp. 2d at 265).

Furthermore, the assertion of infringement as to two relatively simple design patents could not have independently added great time and expense to a litigation involving a third, more involved design patent (‘353), three utility patents, and trade dress and unfair competition claims. See id. (listing the “effect [a Rule 11(b) violation] had on the litigation process in time or expense” as a relevant factor (quoting Ho Myung Moolsan Co., 665 F. Supp. 2d at 265)). And indeed, the fact that Bobcar’s arguments in favor of the validity of one of the three challenged design patents were not frivolous “militates strongly against imposing sanctions” here. Fleming, 2013 WL 1285431, at *11.

“[I]t is well settled that the imposition of sanctions is reserved for `extreme cases.'” Tantaros, 2018 WL 1662779, at *3 (quoting Sorenson v. Wolfson, 170 F. Supp. 3d 622, 626 (S.D.N.Y. 2016)). The Court concludes that this action is not such an “extreme case.”

Comment: the case stands for the proposition that to obtain sanctions you have to show some rather serious conduct. The fact that one count in a complaint was weak is not enough for a sanctions motion.

Bobcar Media, LLC. v. Aardvark Event Logistics, Inc., 16-cv-885 (S.D.N.Y.) February 4, 2019.

Bobcar Media v. Aardvark

Ed Clinton, Jr.

Nonsense Argument Draws Rule To Show Cause Why Attorney Should Not Be Sanctioned.


In a lawsuit involving the death of a detainee in federal custody, the plaintiff claimed that the Defendant, a health care company, violated a provision of the West Virginia Constitution. The problem was that the provision relates to state education, not health care.  The court ordered plaintiff’s counsel to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for alleging this nonsense argument in a medical care tort lawsuit.

As recently discussed by this court—in this case—in a published opinion— Article XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution reads as follows:

“The Legislature shall provide, by general law, for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.”

W. Va. Const. Art. XII, § 1. Remarkably, the plaintiff alleged a violation of this constitutional provision for a second time in the Amended Complaint. “To assert that this constitutional provision applies to disputed medical treatment and the death of a federal detainee is [still] nonsense.” Knouse, 333 F. Supp. 3d at 592.

“By presenting to the court a pleading . . . —whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney . . . certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances . . . the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b). “On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(3). Consequently, the court ORDERS the plaintiff’s counsel who signed the Amended Complaint to show cause as to why pleading violations of Article XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution, in two separate pleadings in this litigation, does not violate Rule 11(b).

Knouse v. Primecare Medical of West Virginia 18 cv 1014 (S.D. West Virginia) (January 17, 2019.

Non-compliant Plaintiff Narrowly Escapes Dismissal But Is Sanctioned


The case is Macklin v. Charles Schwab No. DKC 16-3923 (D. Maryland) (January 8, 2019). The plaintiff in the case did not comply with discovery, but did make efforts to remedy the noncompliance when Schwab moved for Rule 37 sanctions. The Court elected not to dismiss the case, but to bar plaintiff from using any late-produced evidence.  The explanation:

Plaintiff acted in bad faith by repeatedly failing to comply with the court’s Orders to provide complete discovery responses. The court’s May 22, 2018 Memorandum Opinion provided Plaintiff with a detailed list of the discovery requests that remained outstanding at that time, and directed Plaintiff to “provide full and complete responses to all the interrogatories and the request for production . . . in a signed writing under oath.” (ECF No. 24, at 6). In response, Plaintiff failed to comply with the court’s orders and provided only a meager amount of additional information that hardly qualified as a full and complete response to the outstanding discovery requests. However, it is unlikely that Defendant is substantially prejudiced by Plaintiff’s lack of compliance. While insufficient, Plaintiff’s responses provide Defendant with enough information to begin building a defense. As for the need to deter future noncompliance, it is evident that Plaintiff requires such deterrence based on her continued defiance of the court’s Orders. Lastly, as explained in further detail below, dismissal is not the only sanction that would effectively deter Plaintiff’s potential future noncompliance.

Based on the four factors, sanctions are warranted but dismissal is not the appropriate sanction at this time. The sanction of dismissal is to be used sparingly, and is usually called upon in cases where a party is unresponsive or largely absent. See Mut. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n v. Richards & Assocs., Inc., 872 F.2d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 1989) (“[O]nly the most flagrant case, where the party’s noncompliance represents bad faith and callous disregard for the authority of the district court and the Rules, will result in the extreme sanction of dismissal or judgment by default.”); Roman v. ESB, Inc., 550 F.2d 1343, 1349 (4th Cir. 1976) (finding dismissal sanction appropriate where plaintiffs “had failed to respond to interrogatories; failed to respond to an order entered by the district court requiring a response to the interrogatories; and additionally failed to respond upon specific request after the court had denied, without prejudice, a first motion to dismiss”); Malry v. Montgomery Cty. Pub. Sch., No. 11-CV-00361-AW, 2013 WL 812020, at *2 (D.Md. Mar. 3, 2013) (dismissing pro se plaintiff’s employment discrimination complaint pursuant to Rule 37(d) where he failed to respond to interrogatories, produce requested documents, or attend a properly noticed deposition). Given Plaintiff’s pro se status, her correspondence and attachments are construed as an attempt to satisfy the court’s August 21, 2018 Order.[3] Although Plaintiff’s discovery responses remain incomplete, Plaintiff supplemented her prior discovery responses by providing Defendant with further information via e-mail on September 10, 2018. (ECF No. 32-1, at 2). Finally, Plaintiff also provided Defendant with her availability in an attempt to schedule a deposition (id.), but Defendant failed to clarify a preferred deposition date and time in its reply email (ECF No. 32-2, at 2). Because dismissal is reserved for more egregious cases of noncompliance, it is not a suitable sanction at this time in light of Plaintiff’s attempts to comply. Additionally, as directed in the foregoing Order, the parties are instructed to schedule and complete Plaintiff’s deposition.

Although Plaintiff’s attempts to comply shield her case from dismissal, they do not shelter her from the alternative sanctions permitted under Rule 37(b)(2)(A). Specifically applicable here is Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(ii), which provides the court discretion to “prohibit[] the disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated claims or defenses, or from introducing designated matters in evidence.” In the event that Plaintiff’s case proceeds to an adjudication on the merits, according to Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(ii), Plaintiff will be barred from introducing evidence that was not already provided to Defendant through initial disclosures or discovery. This sanction more appropriately addresses any potential prejudice to Defendant by limiting Plaintiff’s ability to bolster her claims with additional dilatory evidence in the same way Defendant has been limited by her scant discovery responses.

The court also rejected arguments that the case should be dismissed under Rule 41(b) which allows the court to dismiss an action for noncompliance with court orders or the failure to prosecute the claim.

The Clinton Law Firm, LLC

Lawyer Burned For False Statements In Client’s Affidavit


This is a case where a lawyer was sanctioned pursuant to Rule 11 for false statements in his client’s affidavit. The affidavit was introduced in an effort to fight a change of venue motion. The court, after hearing, concluded that the client’s false statement was the fault of his lawyer and awarded sanctions.  In SyncPoint Imaging, LLC v. Nintendo of America, Inc. 15-cv-00247 pending in the Eastern District of Texas, the parties apparently became embroiled in a venue dispute. Plaintiff was represented by Joseph Pia. The client representative was Karl Hansen.

The court found that in resisting Nintendo’s venue motion, the plaintiff included false statements in an affidavit. The court entered a rule to show cause and held a hearing on the rule. The interesting issue is that the court absolved the client, who signed the false affidavit, from liability. The court reasoned that the client did not understand what he signed. The reasoning:

Here, representations about the alleged SyncPoint consultants were made in Paragraph 61 of Hansen’s declaration, which was submitted in response to Nintendo’s venue motion. Nintendo’s venue motion was brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Since “the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses” is a key factor in a § 1404(a) analysis, see In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008), the discussion of four potential witnesses — the SyncPoint consultants — in Paragraph 61 is a critical factual allegation.

Paragraph 61 is also a factual allegation that indisputably lacks evidentiary support. Two of the four nominal consultants had already declined to be involved with SyncPoint by the time the declaration was signed. Of the two remaining consultants, one had at most visited the SyncPoint office. Even if Dr. Thomas, Buechele, Vance, and Bland all agreed to visit SyncPoint’s office, Hansen’s email to Dr. Thomas indicates that the only “business” the alleged consultants were asked to conduct was picking up mail and making sure the server was still running. The declaration clearly implies that these four consultants conducted the business of SyncPoint and should thus be considered as potential witnesses. The email to Dr. Thomas is particularly concerning, as it makes clear that Hansen’s request was made solely to support venue, not to conduct SyncPoint’s business.

The Court finds that this email is necessarily the fault of Hansen’s attorney — Pia — not Hansen. Hansen’s email reflects what his lawyers must have told him to provide, since Hansen candidly admitted at the September 5, 2018 show cause hearing that he “didn’t know what matters in a venue.” Hr’g Tr. 21:16-23, [Dkt. No. 369].

Similarly, Paragraph 61 is also attributable to counsel. Pia admitted that he did not review Hansen’s declaration and never verified whether Dr. Thomas, Buechele, Vance, or Bland were truly SyncPoint consultants. This is especially troubling given that Pia had sufficient time to conduct a prefiling investigation into relatively straightforward factual contentions. In the month Pia took respond to Nintendo’s venue motion, Pia never investigated these venue facts. In fact, nearly three years later, the alleged consultants are still not known to Pia. While Pia advised the Court that he relied on a contract attorney to draft SyncPoint’s response to Nintendo’s venue motion, there has been no showing that the contract attorney was responsible for the misrepresentations in Paragraph 61, which was, in any event, made under Pia’s signature.[2] Thus, there is simply no excuse for Pia’s failure to make a reasonable inquiry into these critical factual representations. Pia violated Rule 11.

As to Hansen, however, the Court finds that he is not jointly responsible for the false allegations in this matter. Rule 11(c)(1) authorizes the Court to impose sanctions on Pia, as the violating attorney, and on Hansen, as the party potentially responsible for the violation. A client is responsible for a Rule 11 violation if the client “know[s] that the filing and signing [of a pleading, motion, or other paper] is wrongful.” In re Motion for Sanctions Against Meyers, No. 4:12-MC-015-A, 2014 WL 1494099, at *8 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 16, 2014), supplemented, No. 4:12-MC-015-A, 2014 WL 1910621 (N.D. Tex. May 9, 2014) (citing Calloway v. Marvel Entm’t Grp., a Div. of Cadence Indus. Corp., 854 F.2d 1452, 1475 (2d Cir.1988) rev’d in part sub nom Pavelic & LeFlore v. Marvel Entm’t Grp., 493 U.S. 120 (1989)). In appropriate instances, the Fifth Circuit has held both the attorney and client jointly and severally liable. See Jennings v. Joshua Indep. School Dist., 948 F.2d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 1991). Here, Hansen’s testimony makes clear that he was not aware of the importance of Paragraph 61 and the need for precision in its wording. Therefore, sanctions against Hansen are inappropriate.

The court concluded that plaintiff’s attorney, Joseph Pia, was responsible for the erroneous statements in the affidavit.

Because Pia violated Rule 11(b)(3), the Court now examines what sanctions are appropriate. See Jennings, 948 F.2d at 197 (citing Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Commc’ns Ent., Inc., 498 U.S. 533, 541-47 (1991)). Sanctions may be imposed either on motion or sua sponte. On its own, the Court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why such conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(3).[3] If the Court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the Court may impose an appropriate sanction on the attorney, law firm, or party responsible for the violation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(1). The central purpose of court-imposed sanctions is to “deter baseless filings in district court.” Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 393 (1990).

Here, Pia’s admitted lack of diligence in investigating critical factual contentions represented to this Court is simply inexcusable. This matter has already concluded pursuant to the dismissal order, see [Dkt. No. 279]; [Dkt. No. 283], and there was no Rule 11 motion for sanctions. The Court is thus limited to imposing a nonmonetary sanction or a monetary penalty payable to the court. This Memorandum Opinion and Order shall serve as a public reprimand to Joseph G. Pia and an Order to him to submit a $1,000 fine payable to the Clerk of this Court within 30 days.

Comment: this decision is unusual because it puts the blame for a false statement in an affidavit squarely on the shoulders of the lawyer, not the client who signed the affidavit. This decision is an important reminder to be careful and prudent in practicing law. Don’t let a client say something that is not true – to the best of your ability.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

The Clinton Law Firm, LLC

A link to the decision is posted here. SyncPoint Imaging, LLC v. Nintendo of America, Inc.

An Unusual Decision – Misstatements In A Rule 37 Sanctions Motion Not Subject to Sanctions


The case is Lee v. Horton, 2-17-cv-2766 (Western District of Tennessee December 4, 2018). What makes this opinion unusual and worth reading is that the court concluded that certain misstatements in a motion for sanctions were not themselves subject to sanctions. Lee was injured in an accident. She sued Horton, a truck driver, and Kroger. Lee filed a motion to sanctions under Rule 37 in which she alleged that Kroger had destroyed the electronic logs of the Kroger truck. Lee’s motion for Rule 37 sanctions was denied. Lee’s counsel apparently clarified the factual allegations in a court hearing and admitted that some of them were, in fact, inaccurate.

The defendants then filed their own Rule 11 motion alleging that Lee had made numerous false statements in the Motion for Rule 37 sanctions. That motion was denied by the Magistrate Judge. The Defendants then appealed to the District Judge who adopted the Magistrate’s findings. No sanctions were issued.

The District Court agreed that Rule 11 did not apply:

The Magistrate Judge found that Lee’s statements were made in a Rule 37(e) motion for spoliation sanctions and were therefore outside the scope of Rule 11. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11(d). (Supplemental Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 104 at 1382-84.) Rule 11 “does not apply to . . . motions under Rules 26 through 37.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11(d). Defendants have not objected to this finding, and the Court therefore reviews it for clear error. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) advisory committee notes.

Defendants have argued that “Plaintiff’s original Motion for Sanctions is nothing more than a defamatory narrative seeking a summary judgment as to compensatory and punitive damages.” (ECF No. 49-1 at 573.) The Court does not agree. Lee’s Motion explicitly seeks relief for alleged spoliation. (P.’s Mot. Sanctions, ECF No. 34 at 282 (“Lee prays for the following: (a) Sanctions against Kroger and Horton, jointly and severally, for intentional destruction of material evidence.”).) While Lee also asked for “summary judgment” as a sanction, (P.’s Mot. Sanctions, ECF No. 34 at 282) Rule 37(e)(2)(c) establishes default judgment as a possible penalty for intentional spoliation. The Court concurs with the Magistrate Judge’s finding that Lee’s statements were contained in a motion for sanctions brought pursuant to Rule 37(e), rather than Rule 56. The Court finds that Lee’s Motion for Sanctions is therefore outside the scope of Rule 11. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11(d).

In their Reply in support of their Motion, Defendants have also argued that “the crux of Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions is targeting Plaintiff’s counsel’s misrepresentations and conduct unrelated to any underlying discovery dispute.” (ECF No. 49-1 at 573-74.) The Court notes that Defendants’ original Motion for Sanctions, by its plain text, does seek sanctions for conduct related to an underlying discovery dispute. “Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions makes numerous factual contentions that have zero evidentiary support.” (Id. at 495.) “Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions makes numerous legal contentions in direct contrast to the authority provided.” (Id. at 497.) “Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions is presented to harass, cause unnecessary delay, and to needlessly increase the cost of litigation.” (Id. at 498.) Almost all of the specific statements cited by Defendants as inaccuracies were made in the Motion for Sanctions. (See generally Id., see also P.’s Mot Sanctions ECF No. 34.) The Court concurs with the Magistrate Judge that Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions is outside the scope of Rule 11(b). (Supplemental Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 104 at 1384.)

Even if the Rule 11(d) exception for discovery-related “motions” does not include the factual and legal contentions contained within those motions, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Lee’s representations during an August 21, 2018 hearing clarified any previous inaccuracies. (Supp. Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 104 at 1384-85.) Defendants have not objected to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion regarding the hearing. The Magistrate Judge determined that additional deterrence was unnecessary when viewing Lee’s conduct as a whole. (Supp. Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 104 at 1384-85.) The Court has broad powers to impose sanctions, so long as they are “limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11(c)(4). The Court finds that it was not clearly erroneous for the Magistrate Judge to conclude based on subsequent clarifications that Lee’s conduct does not warrant sanctions.

28 U.S.C. 1927 did not apply either.

The Magistrate Judge previously found that Lee’s allegation that Defendants falsified trip sheets lacked evidentiary support. (ECF No. 61 at 694; Def.’s Obj. Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 93 at 1070.) Defendants specifically object that advancing a contention for which there is no evidence should be sanctionable under 28 U.S.C. § 1927. (Def.’s Obj. Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 93 at 1070.) The Court notes that Lee’s allegation of falsification does not appear in her Motion for Sanctions or her Reply. (See ECF Nos. 34, 37.) Neither the Magistrate Judge nor Defendants provide a specific citation for where this allegation was made in any filing. (See ECF No. 61 at 694; Def.’s Obj. Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 93 at 1070.) The record instead suggests that this argument was made in oral argument before the Magistrate Judge on August 21, 2018. (See ECF No. 46.) To be clear, a lawyer should not make statements in Court that lack evidentiary support. On a review of the record, however, the Court considers this argument to be a last-ditch effort that was dismissed out of hand rather than a multiplication of proceedings. While certainly indicative of a lack of care or knowledge, the Court does not find that this rises to a sanctionable level under 28 U.S.C. § 1927, given its limited impact.

The Court next considers whether the legal arguments contained within Lee’s Motion for Sanctions are sanctionable under 28 U.S.C. § 1927. Having reviewed the cases and federal regulations at issue, the Court finds that, while Lee’s arguments were incorrect, such misreadings are attributable to incompetence or negligence. The Court also notes that Defendants’ claim that such misrepresentations are “continuous” appears to be incorrect. Defendants only cite one motion in support of this argument, (Defs.’ Mot. Sanctions, ECF No. 40 at 497-98) and do not object to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that Lee’s counsel made significant clarifications at a subsequent hearing. (Supplemental Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 104 at 1385.) Court concurs with the Magistrate Judge that Lee’s legal arguments were wrong, but not frivolous. (See generally id. (finding under Rule 11 that “Lee’s counsel’s misinterpretation of . . . various legal arguments, while ultimately rejected by the court, do not amount to conduct that would be sanctionable.”) Given that the Defendants have not objected to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that the legal arguments in question were not sanctionable under Rule 11, and the fact that Lee’s counsel clarified Lee’s position at a subsequent motion hearing, the Court finds that these legal arguments are also not sanctionable under 28 U.S.C. §1927.

Conclusion: Lee’s lawyer was lucky here because he made misstatements on the record in an effort to obtain Rule 37 sanctions. Those statements were not accurate and, in my opinion, Lee’s lawyer was fortunate to escape some form of sanctions for this behavior. Apparently, his decision to admit he was wrong at oral argument before the Magistrate Judge saved him from sanctions.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

The Clinton Law Firm

Procedural Default Defeats Sanctions Motion


If you wish to move for Rule 11 sanctions, you must take the time to (a) give the other party 21 days to withdraw the offending paper or pleading; and (b) file the motion for sanctions as a separate motion. Failure to do that risks defeat.

This is the case King v. Wang S.D. New York 2018. King argued that Wang had presented frivolous legal theories in an amended pleading. The court never reached those arguments because King did not comply with the procedural requirements of Rule 11. The explanation for the ruling:

This Court declines to discuss the merits of the Kings’ arguments for sanctions because it finds that the Kings have failed to comply with Rule 11’s strict procedural requirements. Specifically, they failed to make their motion “separately from any other motion.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c). Rather, they tacked their motion for sanctions onto their motion to strike the Amended TPC. See Bower, 2015 WL 10437758, at *3 (denying a motion for sanctions where the defendants’ “purported Rule 11 motion consist[ed] of a single, conclusory sentenced” added to the end of a brief); see also Williamson, 542 F.3d at 51 (affirming district court’s decision to deny request for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 because the defendants failed to “make a separate motion for sanctions”).

The Kings also failed to comply with Rule 11(c)’s safe harbor provision. The parties do not dispute that the Second Circuit held in Lawrence v. Richman Grp. of CT LLC, 620 F.3d 153, 158 (2d Cir. 2010), that “the filing of an amended pleading resets the clock for compliance with the safe harbor requirements of Rule 11(c)(2) before a party aggrieved by the new filing can present a sanctions motion based on that pleading to the district court.” The parties dispute, however, whether Lawrence applies when a party has unilaterally amended its pleading, as opposed to when a party was granted leave to replead and then filed a new complaint, as was the case in Lawrence.

This Court finds that the rule in Lawrence applies to “all pleadings” and, therefore, applies even when a party has exercised its right to amend its pleading as a matter of course.[1] Lawrence, 620 F.3d at 157. Other courts in this district have applied Lawrence to pleadings amended as a matter of course under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). See e.g., Rates Tech. Inc. v. Broadvox Holding Co., LLC, No. 13 CIV. 0152 SAS, 2014 WL 46538, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2014) (holding that defendants were required to serve a new sanctions motion after plaintiffs, who had amended their complaint as a matter of course, filed a new complaint). This Court, like the district court in Lawrence, may be faced with “relentless motion practice”; however, as cautioned by the Second Circuit, that does not give this Court — or the Kings — the ability to “negate the safe harbor requirements of Rule 11(c)(2).” Lawrence, 620 F.3d 160.

Because the Kings have failed to meet the procedural requirements of Rule 11(c)(2) Court is barred from granting “any award of sanctions” and this motion is denied. Targum v. Citrin Cooperman & Co., LLP, No. 12 CIV. 6909 SAS, 2013 WL 6087400, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 19, 2013).