15. Attorney Smith knew or should have known after reasonable inquiry prior to filing the complaint that only the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review a decision of the highest court of a state.
16. The complaint contained a claim for attorney's fees.
17. Attorney Smith has not sent his client, John D. Thrush, a bill for services rendered.
18. Attorney Smith did not execute a fee agreement with his client, John D. Thrush.
19. Attorney Smith did not maintain contemporaneous records of time spent on this case.
20. The facts alleged in the complaint were sworn to by John D. Thrush.
21. John D. Thrush swore that the Defendants were sued ". . . individually and in their official capacities . . . ."
22. John D. Thrush knew at the time he signed the affidavit attached to the complaint that his ex-wife, Donna G. Thrush, had no "official capacity."
23. John D. Thrush swore that ". . . Defendants have acted under color of authority of the law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or in active concert with such defendant who was so acting."
24. At the time John D. Thrush signed the affidavit he knew his ex-wife, Donna G. Thrush, had never been in a position such that she could act under color of state law.
25. At the time John D. Thrush signed the affidavit he knew his ex-wife had only filed an action for divorce and had defended appeals in the state courts.
26. John D. Thrush is an Administrative Law Judge with the Social Security Administration.
27. John D. Thrush earns approximately $ 60,000 - $ 62,000 annually.
28. John D. Thrush assisted in preparing the complaint in this case.
29. John D. Thrush directed Attorney Smith to a forms book containing sample complaints for actions filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
30. On November 17, 1986, Donna G. Thrush filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.
31. In the motion to dismiss Donna G. Thrush raised the issues of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the full faith and credit clause, and collateral estoppel.
32. John D. Thrush's sole argument in opposition to the motion to dismiss was that he had been denied a "full and fair opportunity" to litigate the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code in the state courts.
33. Donna G. Thrush retained attorney Dianne Dusman to represent her in this case.
34. Donna G. Thrush earns $ 14,800 annually.
35. Attorney Dusman agreed to seek payment of counsel fees and expenses under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.
36. In Attorney Dusman's representation of Donna G. Thrush she filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, a Brief in Support, a Reply Brief, an Application for Counsel Fees and Expenses, a Brief in Support, a Reply Brief, a Pre-trial Memorandum and Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
37. Attorney Dusman maintained a detailed record of the time spent and tasks performed in this action.
38. Attorney Dusman maintained time records contemporaneously with the work performed.
39. Attorney Dusman kept itemized records of expenses related to this case.
40. The total attorney's fees incurred defending the case were $ 2,754.00.
41. The total costs incurred defending the case were $ 14.03.
42. The total attorney's fees incurred with respect to the application for counsel fees were $ 2,988.00.
43. The total costs incurred with respect to the fee application were $ 163.00.
44. Attorney Dusman charged an hourly rate of $ 60.00.
Donna G. Thrush contends that she is entitled to an award of attorney's fees against John D. Thrush and his attorney, Allen H. Smith, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 and 42 U.S.C. § 1988. We shall first address the claim brought under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 which governs the signing of pleadings and motions requires that each pleading or motion be signed by an attorney. The Rule provides in relevant part that
. . . The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. . . . If a pleading, motion or other papers is signed in violation of this Rule, the Court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee.
Although the Rule states that the Court "shall impose" a sanction if a paper is signed in violation of the Rule, the sanction to be imposed rests within the Court's discretion. Eavenson, Auchmuty, and Greenwald v. Holtzman, 775 F.2d 535 (3d Cir. 1985).
The notes of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules make it clear that Rule 11's provisions are designed to discourage dilatory or abusive tactics and to reduce the number of frivolous claims and defenses brought in federal courts. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 Advisory Committee Note. The standard for testing conduct under Rule 11 is objective reasonableness under the circumstances. Eavenson, Auchmuty, & Greenwald v. Holtzman, 775 F.2d 535, 540 (3d Cir. 1985). In considering whether Attorney Smith formed a belief after a reasonable inquiry that the pleadings filed in this case were well grounded in fact and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, we must determine what was reasonable for him to believe at the time the pleadings were submitted.
In our view this case falls squarely within the parameters of the type of frivolous claims for which Rule 11 allows the Court to impose sanctions. The allegations are so entirely frivolous and groundless as to evince an improper purpose on the part of John D. Thrush and his attorney in filing the complaint.
The complaint indicates on its face that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. It alleges that John D. Thrush's civil rights were violated by his ex-wife, Donna G. Thrush who filed a divorce action against him and the Honorable Clarence C. Morrison, the judge who granted the divorce and ordered the marital property equitably distributed, because the equitable distribution section of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code is unconstitutional. Paragraph 10 of the complaint states:
10. Plaintiff appealed the order and decree [of Judge Morrison] to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania alleging an unconstitutional taking of property under the Constitution of the United States and under the Constitution of Pennsylvania, which appeal was denied by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in its Decision of July 12, 1985.