United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
June 20, 2017, this Court scheduled a July 13, 2017
evidentiary hearing and oral argument on counsel for
Plaintiff's Motion for Fees, and this Court's related
sua sponte determination that sanctions might result
following the Court's further review of this matter and
after considering counsel for Plaintiff's argument. ECF
Order provided Plaintiff's counsel with
“particularized notice, ” because it stated
“the particular factors that [s]he must address if
[s]he is to avoid sanctions.” Jones v. Pittsburgh
Nat. Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1357 (3d Cir. 1990).
particular, that Order stated as follows at Paragraph 4:
In addition, at the time of the hearing, both parties should
be prepared to address whether counsel for Plaintiff's
fee request in excess of $727, 000.00, which seeks fees and
costs for portions of the litigation that were necessitated
by her own vexatious conduct, as against defendants that she
ultimately did not prevail, for certain expenses previously
held unrecoverable by judges of this Court, and relative to a
total settlement of $25, 000.00, violates Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11.
addition to citing Rule 11, that Order made clear sanctions
may be imposed for Plaintiff counsel's “vexatious
conduct, ” which conduct is the cornerstone of any
sanctions determination under 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
Earlier today, the Court held its oral argument and
evidentiary hearing, at which time counsel for Plaintiff
reiterated on numerous occasions that she was prepared to
contest (and did so contest) the extent to which her conduct
Contrary to her misrepresentations during this morning's
oral argument, my June 20, 2017 Order was not the first
occasion upon which the issue of sanctions for Plaintiff
counsel's meritless and vexatious fee petition was
Indeed, despite not filing a separate Rule 11 motion, defense
counsel highlighted the propriety of sanctions in its
responsive papers to Plaintiff counsel's fee petition,
devoting a full section of its argument to the following
contention: “Plaintiff's demand for fees for the
second trial, where Defendant Smith was not a party, should
be the basis for sanctions, a denial of fees, or an overall
reduction in fees.” ECF No. 642 at 21-22.
section specifically states that “Under Fed.R.Civ.P.
11(b), by presenting a paper to this Honorable Court,
Plaintiff's counsel certifies that, to the best of her
knowledge, the legal contentions are warranted under existing
law.” Id. at 21.
fact, counsel for the Defendant in its opposition brief to
Plaintiff counsel's fee petition quoted directly from my
2016 decision imposing Rule 11 sanctions, in which I stated
that such sanctions may be appropriate to deter
“vexatious conduct” on the part of an attorney
who “is simply not getting the message.” ECF No.
642 at 20 (citing Keister v. PPL Corp., - F.Supp.3d.
-, No. 4:13-CV-00118, 2016 WL 688031, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Feb.
19, 2016), aff'd, 677 F.App'x 63 (3d Cir.
Moreover, in a July 10, 2017 Order granting a motion to quash
one of Plaintiff counsel's subpoenas, I again reiterated
that the issues to be considered at the July 13 hearing
included the propriety of sanctions as to counsel for
Plaintiff's fee petition. ECF No. 660 ¶ 4.
today's hearing, I ensured, for what is now at least the
third time, that Plaintiff's counsel was aware that the
sanctionable conduct at issue was her submitting a fee
petition that sought costs and fees for portions of the
litigation that were necessitated by her own vexatious
conduct, as against defendants from whom she ultimately did
not prevail, for certain expenses ...