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Hartshorn v. Borough

March 19, 2009

CHRISTINE HARTSHORN PLAINTIFF,
v.
THROOP BOROUGH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 84) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 65). For the reasons provided below, the Court will strike Plaintiff's Statement of Facts and Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 65) for failure to comply with Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 56.1. However, in the absence of any clear evidence showing that Plaintiff's counsel filed the Statement of Facts in bad faith or for some other improper purpose, the Court will deny Defendants' Motion for Sanctions.

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 and pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq..

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Christine Hartshorn filed her Complaint (Doc. 1) commencing this action on July 23, 2007, alleging violations of her rights under both federal and state law. Defendants filed a timely Answer and Affirmative Defenses (Doc. 14) on August 29, 2007. On February 8, 2008, the Court entered a Case Management Order placing the case on the standard case management track and, after various extensions of deadlines, discovery in this matter concluded on or about September 15, 2008. On November 14, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 65) along with a corresponding Statement of Facts (Doc. 63) and Brief in Support (Doc. 64). On November 17, 2008, Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 67) along with a corresponding Statement of Facts (Doc. 69) and Brief in Support (Doc. 71). On February 18, 2009, Defendants filed the current motion seeking sanctions against Plaintiff's counsel. (Doc. 84.) Defendants filed a Brief in Support of the Motion For Sanctions (Doc. 85) on March 4, 2009, and Plaintiff filed a Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 86) on March 11, 2009. As the current motion has been thoroughly briefed, it is currently ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Sanctions Under Rule 11

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, both attorneys and clients - even if the clients do not sign the challenged pleadings or motions - may be subject to sanctions. E.g., United States v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 948 F.2d 1338, 1343-44 (2d Cir. 1991). The primary purpose of Rule 11 is to deter groundless proceedings and abusive litigation practices. Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enterprises, Inc., 498 U.S. 533, 553 (1991). Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part:

(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper--whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it--an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a non-frivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;

(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based ...


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