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Moore v. Oliver

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

October 24, 2018

CARLOS E. MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
KARL OLIVER DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Karl Oliver seeks sanctions and attorney's fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and the Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act (“MLAA”) in this dismissed civil-rights case. Mot. [50]. Although Moore's pleadings were arguably frivolous, Oliver did not comply with Rule 11's procedural requirements and has not shown that the MLAA applies. Accordingly, the motion is denied.

         I. Background

         The facts of this case are set forth more fully in the Court's Order [48] granting Oliver's motion to dismiss. In general terms, attorney Carlos Moore sued state representative Karl Oliver over Oliver's inflammatory Facebook post decrying the City of New Orleans' removal of Confederate monuments. Finding that Moore lacked standing, that his federal claims otherwise lacked merit, and that it would decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the pendent state-law claim, the Court dismissed Moore's lawsuit on April 30, 2018.

         On May 8, 2018, Oliver filed his motion for sanctions, seeking $10, 387.50 in attorney's fees under Rule 11 and the MLAA. Moore responded in opposition, Oliver filed a timely reply, and the Court is prepared to rule.

         II. Analysis

         A. Rule 11

         Under Rule 11(b), when an attorney “present[s] to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper, ” he

certifies that to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; [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[.]

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2), (3). And under Rule 11(c), “the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violate[s]” Rule 11(b). Id. R. 11(c)(1).

         Importantly though, Rule 11 contains a procedural safe-harbor provision:

A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or ...

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