Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 imposes an affirmative duty of reasonable investigation on an attorney signing a court paper, such as a complaint. Specifically, Rule 11 provides two grounds for sanctions: the "frivolousness clause" and the "improper clause."
Plaintiff, an African-American male who was hired by defendant employer in its Personal Financial Counseling practice in July of 1998, had his employment terminated by defendant manager on April 30, 1999. According to plaintiff, however, he was not taken off defendant employer's payroll until June 15, 1999. On March 22, 2000, 327 days after his discharge (on April 30, 1999), plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging race and gender discrimination. The EEOC issued a "Right to Sue" letter on June 5, 2000, and plaintiff filed his original complaint in federal court on September 5, 2000. On January 16, 2001, plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint, which still contained many of the claims that were in the original Complaint – claims that had been specifically addressed by defendants’ counsel in his October 16th letter. Subsequently, defendants filed their present motion to dismiss and for sanctions. Plaintiff argued that equitable estoppel and/or equitable tolling should apply to the facts of this case.
Under the circumstances, should the court grant the defendants’ motion to dismiss and motion for sanctions?
The court found that there were no allegations that defendant employer impeded plaintiff's ability to pursue his discrimination claims. The court granted defendants' motion for sanctions, reasoning that the effect of the sanction was not to penalize counsel for aggressively advocating plaintiff's rights, but was meant as a partial recoupment by defendants of their expenditures in defending these clearly legally baseless allegations.