United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
DONALD J. BERNARD, Plaintiff
SCOTT LITIGATION GROUP, Defendant
ORDER AND REASONS
MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a motion for sanctions filed by Defendant Scott
Litigation Group. Plaintiff Donald Bernard
(“Bernard”) opposes the motion. For the following
reasons, the motion for sanctions is DENIED.
Scott Litigation Group seeks sanctions against Bernard under
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1927, arguing: (1) Bernard did not have any contract
with the Scott Litigation Group, (2) Bernard did not render
meaningful services to the Scott lawsuit, (3)
Bernard did not seek to be appointed to serve as Class
Counsel in the Scott litigation, and (4) Bernard did
not assert a claim, lien, or other demand for fees from the
Scott Litigation Group.
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, attorneys
certify that filings presented to the Court are not being
made for an improper purpose, the claims are warranted by
existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending the
law, the factual allegations have evidentiary support, and
the denial of factual contentions are warranted on the
evidence or are reasonably based on a belief or lack of
information. “A sanction under Rule 11 is an
extraordinary remedy, one to be exercised with extreme
Defendant also contends Bernard's filing of this lawsuit
is unreasonably vexatious under 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
Section 1927 states: “Any attorney or other person
admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States
or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the proceedings in
any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the
court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and
attorneys' fees reasonably incurred because of such
conduct.” For a Court to impose sanctions under
section 1927, the conduct must be both unreasonable and
vexatious. “This requires that there be
evidence of bad faith, improper motive, or reckless disregard
of the duty owed to the court.” Because section 1927 is
punitive in nature, it must be strictly construed against the
party seeking sanctions.
argues the filing of this lawsuit violates neither Rule 11
nor section 1927.He presents the original petition of the
Scott litigation, which lists his name and address
among the counsel of record for the plaintiffs. The petition
also states the pleading is submitted by “Counsel for
Plaintiffs, and on behalf of all counsel who are members of
the Castano Plaintiffs' Litigation Committee which was
previously approved in Dianne Castano, et al. v. The
American Tobacco Company, et al.” The Court
finds Bernard's filing of this lawsuit was based on a
plausible legal theory. “[A] trial court should not
impose Rule 11 sanctions for advocacy of a plausible legal
theory . . . .” Nor is Bernard's conduct of such
an unreasonable and vexatious nature as to give rise to
sanctions under section 1927, because the Scott Litigation
Group does not present evidence of bad faith, improper
motive, or reckless disregard of Bernard's duty owed to
Court finds that, in light of the foregoing, Bernard's
conduct is not sanctionable under Rule 11 or 28 U.S.C. §
1927. The Defendant's motion for sanctions is DENIED.
 R. Doc. 23.
 R. Doc. 25.
 R. Doc. 23-1.
 Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.