been dismissed. Specifically, defendant seeks a court order directing that plaintiff and her attorney pay defendant's counsel fees and costs and permanently enjoining them from filing any further actions arising out of or relating to the facts and claims asserted here and in the prior lawsuit.
In essence, Rule 11 provides that, in filing a pleading, motion or other paper with the court, an attorney or party has certified that to the best of his or her knowledge, the pleading, etc. has not been presented for any improper purpose (such as to harass, delay or impose unnecessary costs), that the claims, defenses, etc. contained therein have evidentiary support and are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(1) - (4). If, however, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that subdivision (b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorney(s), party(ies) or law firm(s) that are responsible for the violation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c).
The purpose of Rule 11 is to deter plaintiffs and defendants from filing papers in court which lack factual or legal support in order to save innocent parties and the courts from dealing with frivolous lawsuits. Temple v. WISAP USA in Texas, 152 F.R.D. 591, 600 (D.Neb. 1993). Mistaken judgment, ignorance of the law, or personal belief with regard to what the law should be do not provide the attorney with an excuse or defense if the lawyer who signed the pleading failed to make a reasonable inquiry into the facts and law supporting the pleading before it is filed. Id. Thus, the principal goal of Rule 11 sanctions is deterrence with compensation being a secondary goal. Orlett v. Cincinnati Microwave, Inc., 954 F.2d 414, 419 (6th Cir. 1992). Since its amendment in 1993, the decision whether to issue sanctions under the rule rest within the court's discretion. Anyanwu v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 887 F. Supp. 690, 694 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Clapp v. LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae, 862 F. Supp. 1050, 1062 (S.D.N.Y. 1994), both citing Knipe v. Skinner, 19 F.3d 72, 78 (2d Cir. 1994). As a result, the 1993 amendments are viewed to discourage imposition of monetary and other sanctions under the Rule where conduct does not reach the point of clear abuse. Anyanwu, at 694.
In application of all of the foregoing, we find that plaintiff and her counsel have come perilously close to a blatant violation of Rule 11. Nevertheless, we shall exercise our discretion and defer the imposition of the requested sanctions at this time and on the basis of the existing record. In so holding, however, we strongly caution plaintiff and her attorney against the institution of any future lawsuits or motions by which she tries to again resurrect the claims and contentions asserted both in this action and in the preceding one. While we do not doubt the sincerity of plaintiff's belief that her claims are viable and were not previously litigated, we remind her and her counsel that mistaken judgment, ignorance of the law, or personal belief with regard to what the law should be do not excuse and will not provide a defense to a subsequent sanctions motion. Thus, should plaintiff and/or her attorney again file any such pleadings or motions in the future, a motion for appropriate sanctions and an injunction will be gladly entertained at that time.
An order follows.
AND NOW, this 20th day of March, 1998, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and for Sanctions and Plaintiff's Response thereto, and it appearing to the Court that this action is barred by the doctrine of Res Judicata, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, the Motion for Sanctions is DENIED and Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice.
BY THE COURT:
J. CURTIS JOYNER, J.
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