The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Prince
Pursuant to an Order entered on August 4, 2010 (Doc. 54), Honorable Christopher Conner referred defendant's pending motion for sanctions (Doc. 41) to the undersigned Magistrate Judge.
Before the court is defendant Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) and defendant Robert Meals' (together, "defendants") motion for sanctions against plaintiff Mike Cvetko and his attorney Robert Mirin, seeking an award of costs and attorney's fees for alleged violations of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.
The facts and procedural history of this case have been well laid out in a prior memorandum of the Court (Doc. 39, at 1--2), and will only be briefly reviewed here. Starting on April 14, 2007, Cvetko had taken to protesting the Hershey Company every Saturday by displaying signs while standing in the median of a road near the Hersheypark amusement park, which is owned by HE&R. On July 7, 2007, defendant Meals, a security officer with HE&R, apparently noticed Cvetko's presence and allegedly notified the local authorities, the Derry Township police, that there was a man along the roadway protesting the Hershey Company practices. Officers arrived at the scene and ordered Cyetko to leave the median, which he refused; the officers arrested him.
Cvetko initiated this action on July 1, 2009, by filing a complaint (Doc. 1), which he amended (Doc. 5) and amended again (Doc. 16), each time in response to motions to dismiss from defendants (Docs. 3, 10). After defendants moved (Doc. 17) to dismiss the second amended complaint and the court granted the motion (Doc. 39), plaintiff moved to amend his complaint for a third time (Doc. 47), which the Court denied (Doc. 52) as failing to cure the defects that led to dismissal before.
Defendants' motion for sanctions (Doc. 41), filed May 10, 2010, is now before the court; a brief in support (Doc. 45) was filed on May 24 and a brief in opposition (Doc. 46) on June 5, making the motion ripe for adjudication.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 provides for the imposition of sanctions upon an attorney or party for the filing of a claim or motion that is "patently unmeritorious or frivolous." Arab African Int'l Bank v. Epstein, 10 F.3d 168, 175 (3d Cir. 1993) (citing Doering v. Union County Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, 857 F.2d 191, 194 (3d Cir. 1988); Gaiardo v. Ethyl Corp., 835 F.2d 479, 483 (3d Cir. 1987)). The Rule provides, in part:
(b) Representations to the Court
By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper . . . an attorney 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 ...