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Henderson v. City of Minneapolis

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 21, 2014

Willie K. Henderson, Plaintiff,
v.
The City of Minneapolis (Minneapolis Convention Center —

Christopher R. Walsh, Esq., Walsh Law Firm, counsel for Plaintiff.

Darla J. Boggs and Gregory P. Sautter, Assistant City Attorneys, Minneapolis City Attorney's Office; and Chad A. Staul, Esq., Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko PC, counsel for Defendants City of Minneapolis, Jeff Johnson, G. Jack Barr, Archie Carlos, Kurt Hicok, Gregory Langford, Steve Egan, Sheldon Drew, Chad Leverson, Don Perry, Don Moody, Cheryl Arnett Senou, John Zasada, and Eric Olson.

Chad A. Staul, Esq. and James B. Sherman, Esq., Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko PC, counsel for Defendants Per Mar Security & Research Corp. and Omar Dahir.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on a Joint Motion for Order to Show Cause brought by all served Defendants[1] (Doc. No. 128), and a Motion for Sanctions brought by the Per Mar Defendants (Doc. No. 137). For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants both motions.

BACKGROUND

This case involves allegations that Plaintiff was discriminated and retaliated against under various federal and state statutes. Both City Defendants and the Per Mar Defendants moved separately for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. By Order dated October 16, 2013, the Court granted both motions and dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety. (Doc. No. 124.) Plaintiff appealed the Court's decision. (Doc. No. 142.) Prior to the appeal, the present motions were filed.[2]

DISCUSSION

I. Motion for Sanctions

The Per Mar Defendants move for Rule 11 sanctions against Plaintiff's attorney, Christopher R. Walsh. As an initial matter, the Court notes that even though judgment has been entered and Plaintiff has filed an appeal in this case, the Court retains jurisdiction to impose sanctions. See, e.g., Murphy v. Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, 859 F.Supp.2d 1016, 1019 (D. Minn. 2012); Mortice v. Providian Fin. Corp., 283 F.Supp.2d 1084, 1087 n.1 (D. Minn. 2000).

Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires an attorney to certify to the Court (to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after a reasonable inquiry) that "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(3). An attorney who violates Rule 11 may be sanctioned. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(1).

In evaluating a Rule 11 motion, the Court determines "whether the attorney's conduct, viewed objectively, manifests either intentional or reckless disregard of the attorney's duties to the court." Clark v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 460 F.3d 1004, 1009 (8th Cir. 2006) (quotations omitted). The primary purpose of imposing sanctions under Rule 11 is "to deter attorney and litigant misconduct." Kirk Cap. Corp. v. Bailey, 16 F.3d 1485, 1490 (8th Cir. 1994).

Per Mar's lead counsel has submitted declaration testimony of the following facts: (1) in February 2013, prior to the depositions of Plaintiff and Dahir, Per Mar's attorney asked Mr. Walsh to withdraw claims against the Per Mar Defendants for lack of merit or factual support; (2) after the depositions, Per Mar's attorney again asked Mr. Walsh to withdraw the claims and noted his intention to move for summary judgment and potentially seek Rule 11 sanctions; (3) in response, Mr. Walsh made a settlement demand in the amount of $10, 000; (4) on April 1, 2013, Per Mar Defendants served Plaintiff with their motion for Rule 11 sanctions, in accordance with the safe harbor provisions of Rule 11; and (5) on October 18, 2013, after the Court granted the Per Mar Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed Plaintiff's claims with prejudice, Mr. Walsh e-mailed Per Mar's attorney indicating that Plaintiff was considering "refiling" or bringing new claims against the Per Mar Defendants, but offered to forgo doing so in exchange for a settlement payment of ...


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