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HURST v. PNC BANK

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


April 8, 2004.

JAMES H. HURST, JR.
v.
PNC BANK, ET AL

The opinion of the court was delivered by: STEWART DALZELL, District Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this 8th day of April, 2004, upon consideration of plaintiff's pro se motion for sanctions against defense counsel (docket entry # 33), plaintiff's pro se motion for sanctions against defendants (docket entry # 34), plaintiff's pro se renewed motion for sanctions against defendants (docket entry # 43), plaintiff's pro se motion for declaratory judgment (docket entry # 46), defendants' responses to each of these motions, and plaintiff's replies to defendants' responses, and the Court finding that:

(a) We will impose discipline on an attorney for any "[a]cts or omissions . . . which violate the Rules of Professional Conduct," LOG. R. Civ. P. 83.6, Rule IV(B);

  (b) The Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit a lawyer from "knowingly . . . mak[ing] a false statement of material fact or law to a third person," 204 Pa. Code § 81.4, Rule 4.1 (2004), and from "engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation," id., Rule 8.4(c);

  (c) Plaintiff seeks sanctions against defense counsel because defense counsel allegedly made false statements to the EEOC about him and some of his former colleagues, see Pl's Mem. Supp. Mot. for Sanctions at 2; (d) Even if these statements were actually false, defense counsel would not have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct because he made them in reliance on the sworn statement of plaintiff's former manager and could not have known that they were untrue, see Starke Aff. ¶¶ 11-12;

  (e) Thus, we shall deny plaintiff's motion for sanctions against defense counsel;

  (f) Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(c)(2) and 56(g), plaintiff asks us to require the defendants to pay portions of his reasonable expenses because they allegedly committed perjury, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623*fn1;

  (g) Rule 37(c)(2) allows a party who has requested that his opponent admit the genuineness of a document to apply for an award of reasonable expenses if the opponent refuses to admit its genuineness and the party later proves that the document was genuine, but plaintiff here has not produced any evidence that he asked defendants to admit the genuineness of any document;

  (h) Rule 56(g) empowers the Court to order a party that presents affidavits "in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay" to pay the other party the amount of reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavit caused the other party incur; (i) Plaintiff asserts that Thomas Starke's affidavit falsely described his check encoding abilities, see Starke Aff. ¶¶ 11, 13, but the record is not sufficiently clear at this time for us to determine whether Starke's statements are false, much less whether they were made in bad faith;

  (j) Because plaintiff has failed to meet the standards established in the Rules, there is no basis for awarding plaintiff reasonable expenses, and we shall deny plaintiff's motion for sanctions against defendants;

  (k) In his renewed motion for sanctions against defendants, plaintiff reiterates several of the arguments that we have already discussed and advances two additional grounds for sanctions;

  (1) First, plaintiff suggests that Valerie Walton-Singer's responses to his second set of interrogatories contain false statements, but we cannot yet determine whether the responses were false;

  (m) Second, plaintiff argues that PNC Bank responded falsely to his interrogatories because it claimed to be unaware of any discrimination complaints involving its check-processing/proof department between May 8, 2000 and March 4, 2002, see Pl's Mem. Supp. Renewed Motion for Sanctions Ex. 6, when in reality it was a defendant in at least twenty-six discrimination suits during that period; (n) Plaintiff, however, has not shown that PNC Bank's response was false because the response concerned only the check-processing/proof department, and plaintiff does not allege that any of his twenty-six examples involved that department;

  (o) Despite plaintiff's intimations to the contrary, PNC Bank did not violate the Court's Order of November 17, 2003 (docket entry # 27) by limiting its response to claims involving the check-processing/proof department because the text of that Order clearly directs PNC Bank to provide "information about complaints against the Proof Encoding Department";

  (p) Because neither of the new grounds for sanctions is sufficient, we shall deny plaintiff's renewed motion for sanctions against defendants;

  (q) We shall also deny plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment because plaintiff admits that whatever discrimination occurred has already concluded, cf. Crown Cork & Seal Co. v. Borden, Inc., 779 F. Supp. 33, 36 (E.D. Pa. 1991) (Ditter, J.) (explaining that declaratory judgment was "not meant . . . to prevent the cost of litigating where . . . violations [of rights] have already occurred"); and

  (r) The arguments in plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment are nearly identical to those raised in his pending motion for summary judgment, and we will reach the merits of his contentions when we resolve that motion; It is hereby ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's motion for sanctions against defense counsel is DENIED;
2. Plaintiff's motion for sanctions against defendants is DENIED;
  3. Plaintiff's renewed motion for sanctions against defendants is DENIED; and

  4. Plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment is DENIED.


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