United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
E. WALTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is a Bill of Costs (Rec. Doc. 86) submitted by the
defendants. Alfred McZeal, the plaintiff, has not filed an
objection to the reasonableness of the attorneys' fees or
costs. For the reasons explained below, the court will award
the defendants $10, 527.29 in attorneys' fees and costs.
FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
complete history of the current case can be found in this
courts previous memorandum ruling which dismissed
McZeal's case with prejudice and directed the Magistrate
Judge to determine appropriate sanctions for McZeal's
Rule 11 violation. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation in which she concluded that McZeal should be
placed on the vexatious litigant list for the Western
District of Louisiana and that the defendants should be
awarded attorneys' fees and costs for having to defend
themselves against McZeal's frivolous
-litigation.-This court adopted the Report and
Recommendation, and ordered the defendants to submit an
itemized Bill of Costs, so that the court could award
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. The defendants
submitted a Bill of Costs asking for $54, 833.00 for 95.60
hours of work and $4, 155.63 for costs
incurred. After the Bill of Costs was submitted,
McZeal appealed the Judgment adopting the Report and
Recommendation to the United States Court of Appeal for the
Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal on
June 16, 2017, for want of prosecution.McZeal filed no
objection to the Bill of Costs before this court.
LAW & ANALYSIS
district court may impose sanctions for violating Rule 11,
including attorneys' fees and costs. Willy v. Coastal
Corp., 855 F.2d 1160, 1172 (5th Cir. 1988) (citing
Thomas v. Capital Sec. Servs., Inc., 836 F.2d 866,
876-78 (5th Cir. 1988)). When imposing attorneys' fees
and costs under Rule 11, the court must consider four
factors: (1) What conduct is being punished or is sought to
be deterred by the sanction?; (2) What expenses or costs were
caused by the violation of the rule?; (3) Were the costs or
expenses "reasonable, " as opposed to self-imposed,
mitigatable, or the result of delay in seeking court
intervention?; and (4) Was the sanction the least severe
sanction adequate to achieve the purpose of the Rule 11?
Topalian v. Ehrman, 3 F.3d 931, 936-37 (5th Cir.
1993). When considering these factors and determining an
amount, the court is not required to award all attorneys'
fees incurred by the Rule 11 violation. Willy, 855
F.2d at 1172 (citing Smith Int'l, Inc. v. Tex.
Commerce Bank, 844 F.2d 1193, 1197 (5th Cir. 1988)).
What Conduct Is Being Punished and Deterred?
court has determined that Rule 11 sanctions are appropriate
because "McZeal's bad faith is apparent from his
litigation history and his conduct in the instant
suit." McZeal "continues to pursue frivolous
claims against these defendants, wastes this court's
valuable time and resources with his meritless filings, and
only reiterates the same nonsense he has apparently-been
peddling across the country when given the opportunity to
amend or dismiss."Furthermore, the court found that
sanctions in the form of an award of attorneys' fees and
costs were appropriate because of "McZeal's
harassing behavior toward his opponents and the disregard
that his vexatious litigation displays for judicial
authority." Therefore, by imposing these sanctions,
the court aims to deter McZeal from filing the same frivolous
claims again and punish him for not heeding the numerous
warnings from several courts.
What Expenses or Costs Were Caused by the Violation of the
defendants submitted a timesheet detailing the hours and
expenses that they have paid during the entire time the case
was pending in the Western District of Louisiana. They have
submitted that they worked for 95.6 hours at various hourly
rates totaling $54, 833.00, and incurred billable travel,
legal research, and postage expenses, totaling $4,
155.63. By the defendants' calculations, the
total costs and attorneys' fees for this case were $58,
988.63.The court finds that any attorneys'
fees and/or expenses incurred by the defendants in this case
were a result of McZeal's Rule 11 violation, i.e. the
frivolous suit filed by McZeal. Therefore, the
comprehensiveness of the submitted attorneys' fees and
expenses is appropriate.
Were the Costs or Expenses "Reasonable"?
the court must determine whether the attorneys' fees and
costs submitted by the defendants are reasonable.