United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge
Charles Picarella (“Picarella”), an inmate
formerly housed at the Northumberland County Prison, Sunbury,
Pennsylvania, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via
a second amended complaint. (Doc. 35). Presently pending
before the court is a motion for Rule 11 sanctions filed by
Picarella. (Doc. 46). For the reasons that follow, the court
will deny Picarella's motion.
was housed at the Northumberland County Prison from
approximately June 23, 2014 through December 10, 2014. (Doc.
35 ¶ 19). During his incarceration, Picarella alleges
that he “create[d] pen and ink drawings as a creative
outlet, form of expression, and form of speech.”
(Id. at ¶ 21). Picarella displayed the drawings
in his cell, on his cell door, and on the walls adjacent to
his cell. (Id. at ¶ 22). He alleges that
defendants confiscated his drawings in violation of his
rights under the United States and Pennsylvania
Constitutions. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-46, 48-51).
6, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the original
complaint. (Doc. 15). Picarella contends that he never
received a copy of defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc.
46). In response, defendants acknowledge that they
inadvertently failed to mail a copy of their initial motion
to Picarella. (Doc. 47, ¶¶ 5, 6). Once defendants
realized their mistake, they forwarded the motion to
April 5, 2017, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
second amended complaint. (Doc. 36). Picarella again contends
that he did not receive a copy of defendants' motion.
(Doc. 46). In response, defendants state that they timely
mailed to Picarella their motion to dismiss the second
amended complaint. (Id. at ¶¶ 10, 11).
Defendants nevertheless re-sent the motion to Picarella.
November 13, 2017, Picarella filed the instant motion for
sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. (Doc. 46). Picarella asserts that defendants'
failure to serve him violates Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. (Id.) Picarella requests that the
court direct defendants to serve all of their correspondence
by certified mail with an accompanying certificate of
service, and he requests attorney's fees and costs.
(Id. at 3).
court finds that Rule 11 sanctions are not warranted against
defendants in this matter. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure states:
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 it is not being presented for any improper
purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or
needlessly increase the cost of litigation.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1). In assessing a Rule 11 motion for
sanctions, a district court must determine whether the
attorney's conduct was objectively reasonable under the
circumstances. See Ario v. Underwriting Members of
Syndicate 53 at Lloyds for the 1998 Year of Account, 618
F.3d 277, 297 (3d Cir. 2010). Rule 11 sanctions are warranted
only when the filing party has acted in an “objectively
unreasonable” manner, Fellheimer, Eichen &
Braverman, P.C. v. Charter Tech., Inc., 57 F.3d 1215,
1225 (3d Cir. 1995), and “only if the filing . . .
constituted abusive litigation or misuse of the court's
process.” Mary Ann Pensiero, Inc. v. Lingle,
847 F.2d 90, 95 (3d Cir.1988) (quoting Teamsters Local
Union No. 430 v. Cement Express, Inc., 841 F.2d 66, 68
(3d Cir. 1988)).
to Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “a
paper is served under this rule by . . . mailing it to the
person's last known address -- in which event service is
complete upon mailing.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(b)(2)(C). In the
case sub judice, the court concludes that defendants
properly served Picarella by mailing their motions to his
last known address. The mere fact that Picarella did not
initially receive defendants' motions does not in itself
establish that defendants failed to comply with Rule 5. The
court is cognizant of how mail can get lost or otherwise fail
to make its destination within the prison system. When
Picarella informed defendants that he did not receive their
motions, defendants promptly re-forwarded their motions to
him. (See Doc. 36-3, Notice under Local Rule 7.1; Doc. 43-2,
Certificate of Service). Defendants' conduct was
objectively reasonable under the circumstances, and they have
not exhibited bad faith or misuse of the court's process.
Consequently, the court will deny Picarella's request for
on the foregoing, the court will deny Picarella's motion
for Rule 11 sanctions, attorney's fees and ...