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Cesar Uribe v. J. Mckesson

September 6, 2011

CESAR URIBE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. MCKESSON, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND DISMISSING ACTION, WITH PREJUDICE/(ECF No. 153)

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Cesar Uribe ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Following resolution of Defendants' motion for summary judgment, this action is proceeding on the complaint, filed August 29, 2008, against Defendants McKesson, Martinez, and Zaragosa for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. On June 1, 2011, Defendants filed a motion for an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed and request for an order to show cause hearing. Defendants motion alleged that Plaintiff had filed a false declaration of Inmate Carlos Quiroz in support of his motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion on June 17, 2011, and a declaration in support on June 22, 2011.

On August 4, 2011, the Court granted Defendants motion for an order to show cause hearing. Plaintiff filed a response to the order to show cause on August 25, 2011. A hearing on the order to show cause was held on August 30, 2011, to allow Plaintiff the opportunity to be heard. During the hearing, the Court heard testimony from Inmate Carlos Quiroz and Plaintiff. The Court issues the instant order finding that terminating sanctions should be imposed upon Plaintiff for filing a false declaration in support of his motion for summary judgment.

II. Legal Standard

A. Sanctions

Federal courts have broad powers to impose sanctions against parties or counsel for improper conduct in litigation. The Court derives the power to impose sanctions on parties or their counsel from three primary sources of authority, "(1) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which applies to signed writings filed with the court, (2) 28 U.S.C. § 1927, which is aimed at penalizing conduct that unreasonably and vexatiously multiplies the proceedings, and (3) the court's inherent power." Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 991 (9th Cir. 2001).

1. Rule 11

Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[b]y 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: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;. . . [and] (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. . . ." Rule 11 imposes an objective standard of reasonableness, which applies to pro se litigants. Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enterprises, Inc., 892 F.2d 802, 811 (9th Cir. 1989).

Rule 11(c) provides for the imposition of appropriate sanctions for a violation of Rule 11(b) on any attorney, law firm or party that has violated the rule or is responsible for the violation committed. Any sanction imposed must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(4). Whether to impose sanctions is determined by the reasonableness of the inquiry into the law and facts. G.C. & K.B. Investments v. Wilson, 326 F.3d 1096, 1109 (9th Cir. 2003). "An order imposing a sanction must describe the sanctioned conduct and explain the basis for the sanction." Fed. R. Civ. P.11(c)(6).

2. Inherent Power

The Court has inherent power to sanction parties or their attorneys for improper conduct. Chambers v. Nasco, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43-46 (1991); Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 766 (1980); Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 991 (9th Cir. 2001). This includes the "inherent power to dismiss an action when a party has willfully deceived the court and engaged in conduct utterly inconsistent with the orderly administration of justice." Anheuser-Busch, Inc. V. Natural Beverage Distrib., 69 F.3d 337, 348 (9th Cir. 1995) (quoting Wyle v. R. J. Reynolds Indus., Inc., 709 F.2d 585, 589 (9th Cir. 1983)); see Combs v. Rockwell Intern. Corp., 927 F.2d 486, 488 (9th Cir. 1991) ("Dismissal is an appropriate sanction for falsifying deposition"). Because dismissal is such a harsh penalty, it should only be used in extreme circumstances. Wyle, 709 F.3d at 589. "It is well settled that dismissal is warranted where . . . a party has engaged deliberately in deceptive practices that undermine the integrity of judicial proceedings. . . ." Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 69 F.3d at 348.

3. Dismissal as Sanction

In determining whether to dismiss an action for failure to comply with a pretrial order, the Court must weigh "(1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions." In re Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Products Liability Litigation, 460 F.3d 1217, 1226 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal quotations and citations omitted). These factors guide a court in ...


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