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Seidel v. Crayton

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

October 19, 2017

WALTER RAY SEIDEL, Jr., MD and BRENDA LE SEIDEL, Plaintiffs,
v.
CORY CRAYTON, PETE KASSETAS, and JOHN DOES 1-40, Defendants.

          Miguel Garcia John R. Hakanson, P.C. Attorney for Plaintiffs

          Mark D. Standridge Jarmie & Associates Attorney for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 11 regarding Plaintiffs' Excessive Force, Battery and Malicious Prosecution Claims, Doc. 35, filed May 17, 2016. This Court, having considered the motion, briefs, relevant law and being otherwise fully informed, will GRANT Defendants' Motion.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part:

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: … (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b). “[T]he award of Rule 11 sanctions involves two steps.” Adamson v. Bowen, 855 F.2d 668, 672 (10th Cir. 1988). First, the Court must find that a pleading violates Rule 11. The first step “typically involves subsidiary findings, such as the current state of the law or the parties' and attorneys' behavior and motives within the context of the entire litigation.” Id.

         Second, the Court imposes an “appropriate sanction.” Id.

         “The standard by which courts evaluate the conduct of litigation is objective reasonableness - whether a reasonable attorney admitted to practice before the district court would file such a document.” Id. Accordingly, “[i]f, after reasonable inquiry, a competent attorney could not form a reasonable belief that the pleading is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law, then such conduct is sanctionable under Rule 11.” Id. (citation omitted).

         The language of Rule 11 “stresses the need for some prefiling inquiry into both the facts and the law to satisfy the affirmative duty imposed by the rule.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 Advisory Committee Notes (1993 Amendment). In determining whether the signer's conduct is reasonable, “the court is expected to avoid using the wisdom of hindsight” and inquire only as to “what was reasonable to believe at the time the pleading, motion, or other paper was submitted.” Id.

         “The court has available a variety of possible sanctions to impose for violations, such as striking the offending paper; issuing an admonition, reprimand, or censure; requiring participation in seminars or other educational programs; ordering a fine payable to the court; referring the matter to disciplinary authorities.” Id. The Court may consider the following factors: (1) whether the improper conduct was willful, or negligent; (2) whether it was part of a pattern of activity, or an isolated event; (3) whether it infected the entire pleading, or only one particular count or defense; (4) whether the person has engaged in similar conduct in other litigation; (5) whether it was intended to injure; (6) what effect it had on the litigation process in time or expense; (7) whether the responsible person is trained in the law; (8) what amount, given the financial resources of the responsible person, is needed to deter that person from repetition in the same case; and (9) what amount is needed to deter similar activity by other litigants. Id. The Court has discretion to determine what sanctions, if any, should be imposed for a violation, but “sanctions should not be more severe than reasonably necessary to deter repetition of the conduct by the offending person or comparable conduct by similarly situated persons.” Id.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Brenda Le Seidel's Battery and ...


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