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13231 Sundance LLC v. Christine Cronin

June 10, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorablelarryalanburns United States District Judge


Sean Park asks the Court to stay its April 29, 2011 Order sanctioning him $10,434, pending an appeal of that Order to the Ninth Circuit. His motion is DENIED.

The Court applies two related tests in ruling on a motion for a stay pending appeal. The first requires Mr. Park to show "both a probability of success on the merits and the possibility of irreparable injury." Golden Gate Restaurant Ass'n v. City and County of San Francisco, 512 F.3d 1112, 1115 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Lopez v. Heckler, 713 F.2d 1432, 1435 (9th Cir. 1983)). The second test requires him to demonstrate "that serious legal questions are raised and that the balance of hardships tips sharply in his favor." Golden Gate, 512 F.3d at 1116 (quoting Lopez, 713 F.2d at 1435). These two tests "represent two points on a sliding scale in which the required degree of irreparable harm increases as the probability of success decreases." Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Winter, 502 F.3d 859, 862 (9th Cir. 2007).

The Court finds that the most Mr. Park can show is that the sanction award is a substantial sting to his wallet. But that's Mr. Park's fault, and by itself, it is no basis for a stay. The Court sanctions parties very rarely, and only when it is certain a sanction is necessary and appropriate. Here, the Court sanctioned Mr. Park after informing him in writing of the conduct it deemed sanctionable, encouraging him to retain counsel, allowing him time to prepare to contest the allegations at a hearing, and conducting an evidentiary hearing during which he was permitted to call and examine witnesses supporting his position, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and argue against the imposition of sanctions. The hearing fully respected Mr. Park's right of procedural due process, and the Court determines there is little probability that an appeal challenging the procedure that was followed in this case will succeed.

Nor, in the Court's view, is Mr. Park likely to succeed on the merits. The Court found, and Mr. Park does not contest, that he was never an actual party to the underlying unlawful detainer action. In fact, Mr. Park admits that his motion to intervene in that action was denied by the California Superior Court. Following that denial, Mr. Park created a forged version of the pleadings into which he inserted his name as a party, forged the signature of one of the real parties in the case on the removal notice, then fraudulently removed the case to federal court. Mr. Park's illegal, fraudulent, and unauthorized acts resulted in the needless expenditure of time and money by the real parties, caused Ms. Cronin (the real party, whose signature he forged) considerable grief, and needlessly wasted many hours of this Court's time as it sifted through his phony pleadings. His acts were likely also criminal. See 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

Moreover, the real parties to the unlawful detainer case, due to Mr. Park's fraudulent conduct, are themselves out several thousand dollars in legal fees. The balance of hardships does not, therefore, tip sharply in Mr. Park's favor. Nor are any serious legal questions raised by the sanction Order. To the extent the public interest must weigh into the analysis here, the Court finds that Mr. Park's litigation practices easily deserve to be labeled "vexatious," and the public interest is served by enforcing a sanction that is designed to deter those practices.

Mr. Park's problem is that he apparently doesn't know when to stop. This case was fraudulently removed from state court (and Judge Hayes' remand order indicates it was groundlessly removed). Rather than assent to an immediate remand, which would have cost him nothing and imposed a minimal burden on the Court and the parties, Mr. Park is now, months later, falsely accusing this Court of having a deep-seated antagonism toward pro se litigants, and of being the subject of a grand jury investigation. He also continues to rage against the mortgage industry, even though his grievances have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the fraudulent removal he orchestrated in this case, nor the merits of the Court's sanction for that illegal conduct.

The Court will not stay the sanction Order in this case. Mr. Park is now delinquent in paying the required sanction, which was due on May 30, 2011. On the motion of counsel for 13231 Sundance or for Ms. Cronin, Mr. Park is subject to being found in civil contempt, and to all legal consequences that may follow from such a finding.



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