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Carlock v. Collins Motor Co.

April 7, 2008

GAYNOR CARLOCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COLLINS MOTOR COMPANY, RICHARD H. COLLINS, SR., RICHARD H. COLLINS, JR., RITA A. COLLINS, & KRISTEN COLLINS, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ENFORCEMENT OF ORDER FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS/CLARIFICATION OF ORDER FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS (Fed R. Civ. P. 54(d)(2))

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Enforcement of Order for Attorney's Fees and Costs/Clarification of Order for Attorney's Fees Costs ("Motion"). [Doc. No. 107.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion, and CLARIFIES and ENFORCES its order imposing sanctions upon Plaintiff's Counsel.

Background

On February 20, 2004, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and related state law claims. [Doc. No. 1.]

On May 2, 2005, the Court ordered that Plaintiff be declared a vexatious litigant and issued a pre-filing injunction against Plaintiff. [Doc. No. 70.] The Court found that Plaintiff was filing an inordinate number of ADA and related state law claims with the bad faith motive of harassing businesses in order to extract quick cash settlements. (Id. at 10.) On May 4, 2005, the Court issued an Order dismissing Plaintiff's ADA claim for lack of standing and mootness and dismissing Plaintiff's state law claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. [Doc. No. 71.] On May 23, 2005, Defendant filed a motion for attorney's fees against Plaintiff. [Doc. No. 75.] On September 7, 2005, Plaintiff filed a notice of his own motion for award of attorney's fees. [Doc. No. 90.]

On September 19, 2005, the Court issued an Order granting Defendant's motion for attorney's fees and denying Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees ("Order"). [Doc. No. 93.]

On November 6, 2007, Defendant filed the present Motion. [Doc. No. 107.] On November 13, 2007, Plaintiff filed its Opposition and Objection to Defendant's Motion ("Opposition"). [Doc. No. 108.] On November 26, 2007, Defendant filed its Reply Brief to Plaintiff's Opposition ("Reply Brief"). [Doc. No. 110.]

Legal Standards

Attorney's Fees and Costs Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 Title 28, United States Code, Section 1927 ("section 1927") provides that "[a]ny attorney ... 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1927. Section 1927 does not permit sanctions for the initial filing of the complaint; rather, the sanctions only apply to subsequent filings and tactics which multiply the proceedings. Moore v. Keegan Mgmt. Co., 78 F.3d 431, 435 (9th Cir. 1996).

To award sanctions under section 1927, the court must make a finding of recklessness or bad faith. See Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 993 (9th Cir. 2001); see also West Coast Theater Corp. v. City of Portland, 897 F.2d 1519, 1528 (9th Cir. 1990).

Attorney's Fees and Costs Pursuant to the Court's Inherent Power

In addition, a federal court has the inherent power "to levy sanctions, including attorneys' fees, for willful disobedience of a court order ... or when the losing party has acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons." Fink, 239 F.3d at 992 (citing Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 766 (1980)); see also Chambers v. NASCO, 501 U.S. 32, 44-45 (1991) (stating that as an "appropriate sanction for conduct that abuses the judicial process," "an assessment of attorney's fees is undoubtedly within the court's inherent power.").

Sanctions under the court's inherent power are only warranted when an attorney has acted in bad faith. Id. at 993; see also Keegan, 78 F.3d at 436. Bad faith is found where an attorney "knowingly or recklessly raises a frivolous argument, or argues a meritorious claim for the purpose of harassing an opponent." Primus Auto Fin. Servs. v. Batarse, 115 F.3d 644, 649 (9th Cir. 1997); see also Fink, 239 F.3d at 992 (bad faith includes a broad range of improper conduct, ...


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