A federal court judge today imposed sanctions on Americans for Individuals with Disabilities and its lawyers and awarded fees to the Defendant.
Selections from the order are below:
“AID and its counsel cannot seek refuge under Baddie. Unlike the plaintiffs in Baddie, AID and its counsel affirmatively told opposing counsel that they had no intention of dismissing the federal claims if the Defendant removed the case.
Furthermore, unlike the plaintiffs in Baddie, AID and its counsel have an established practice of misleading opposing counsel.
“AID and its counsel’s decisions to dismiss its federal claims under these circumstances are not “straight-forward tactical decision[s].” Rather, these decisions reflect expensive bait-and-switch maneuvers aimed at “prolonging litigation and imposing costs on the opposing party.” Martin, 546 U.S. at 140. Per Mr. Zazueta’s testimony at oral argument, these decisions are ultimately made by Mr. Zazueta and Mr. Strojnik. In this case the Court finds that the refusal to seek dismissal until after counsel had filed their motions for remand evinces a bad faith desire to “argue a meritorious claim for the purpose of harassing an opponent.” Estate of Blas Through Chargualaf, 792 F.2d at 860. Therefore, the Court finds that counsel’s behavior justifies imposing “the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees reasonably incurred” due to counsel’s bad faith conduct. 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
“AID knew, and yet its counsel intentionally told the Defendant that AID would not file such a motion if the case was removed. Defense counsel relied on that statement and incurred expenses to remove this case to federal court. AID’s behavior was aimed at “imposing costs on the opposing party,” and it is the exact sort of behavior that the Martin Court sought to deter. Martin, 546 U.S. at 140. Therefore, AID, Mr. Strojnik, and Mr. Zazueta are ordered jointly and severally to reimburse the Defendant for attorney’s fees incurred between the removal and remand of this case. The Court will determine the amount of such reasonable fees upon submission by the attorney of an affidavit outlining his expenses for this period.”
A copy of the full order can be viewed below.