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HASS v. RICO ENTERPRISE

June 15, 2004.

Dr. RICHARD HASS, Plaintiff,
v.
The RICO ENTERPRISE, JANET VOLK HASS, ANITA & EDWIN VOLK, KENNETH ABRAHAM, BRIAN McKILLIP, STEPHEN CULLITON, DIMITRI DRES, MICHAEL KINTZ, JOHN PANEGASSER, SUSAN CASTAGNOLI, ROBERT DOWNS, JEFFREY LEVING, ROBERT GALATZER-LEVY, and JAMES KONETSKI, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES NORGLE, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court are Defendants', Robert Galatzer-Levy and Michael Kintz, Motions for Sanctions, brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. For the following reasons, the motions are granted.

I. INTRODUCTION

  On December 2, 2003, Plaintiff, Dr. Richard Hass*fn1 ("Hass"), filed his Complaint alleging that Defendants, collectively referred to as "The RICO Enterprise," had conspired to, inter alia, violate his Due Process rights by "fixing" the outcome of his dissolution of marriage*fn2 and child custody proceedings in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. See Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 18-67. Hass's Complaint contained allegations of the behavior of his ex-wife, former in-laws and other persons involved with the dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings, concluding that "[t]he DuPage Courts are a lucrative shakedown racketeering Enterprise operating under color of law." Id. ¶ 17. Hass based federal subject matter jurisdiction on 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. On June 10, 2004, the court held that Hass's Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and additionally, that the claims were clearly barred by the applicable statutes of limitation. See Opinion and Order of June 10, 2004 [45-1].

  The single group of operative facts that gave rise to Hass's Complaint emanated from the dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings initiated by Hass's ex-wife, Defendant Janet Volk Hass. Hass alleged that the results of those proceedings were fixed by "The RICO Enterprise" operating within the Circuit Court of DuPage County, and apparently spearheaded by his ex-wife and former in-laws. Dissatisfied with the results of those proceedings, Hass has lashed out, via the legal process, at all those who may have been even tangentially involved with those proceedings. The relief requested by Hass's Complaint was unclear; however, to the extent that he sought to challenge the outcomes of his dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings he cannot do so in federal court according to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). Further, "[t]he whole subject of the domestic relations of husband and wife, parent and child, belongs to the laws of the States and not to the laws of the United States." In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586, 593-594 (1890); see also Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 692 (1992).

  As discussed more fully herein, Hass's Complaint and other pleadings are a mélange of unsupported, frivolous allegations about corruption in the state court, sprinkled with personal attacks on his ex-wife, former in-laws, his ex-wife's attorneys, his own attorneys and court personnel within the Circuit Court of DuPage County. Defendants Michael Kintz ("Kintz") and Robert Galatzer-Levy ("Galatzer-Levy") have responded to Hass's Complaint and various other pleadings with two separate motions for sanctions, both brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.

  Defendant Kintz argues that sanctions are appropriate because Hass's Complaint and pleadings are objectively frivolous. Further, Defendant Kintz argues that Hass's Complaint was brought for an improper purpose, namely to harass and burden him with litigation costs, in light of the fact that an identical complaint had been filed, and later dismissed, over three years ago in the Circuit Court of DuPage County. Based on this, Defendant Kintz asks the court to take Hass's past conduct into account in determining whether a sanction is appropriate and, if so, the type of sanction to be imposed.

  Defendant Galatzer-Levy argues that sanctions are appropriate because Hass's Complaint and pleadings are objectively frivolous and not warranted by existing law. Specifically, Defendant Galatzer-Levy argues that Hass's Complaint is sanctionable because it was baseless and clearly barred by the applicable statutes of limitation. Defendant Galatzer-Levy has also adopted the motion for sanctions filed by Defendant Kintz.

  Both Defendants seek imposition of monetary sanctions, and Defendant Kintz also seeks imposition of a filing restriction against Hass. The motions for sanctions are now before the court. II. STANDARD OF DECISION

  In pertinent part, Rule 11 provides:
By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying 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 or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b). One of the purposes of Rule 11 "is to deter baseless filings in the district court." Fries v. Helsper, 146 F.3d 452, 458 (7th Cir. 1998) (quoting Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 393 (1990)). Rule 11 sanctions may be imposed on a party for "making arguments or filing claims that are frivolous, legally unreasonable, without factual foundation, or asserted for an improper purpose." Id. A frivolous argument or claim is one that is "baseless and made without a reasonable and competent inquiry." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). As discussed herein, Hass's Complaint, as well as numerous other pleadings filed, violate Rule 11. These pleadings are baseless, were made without reasonable inquiry, and have been filed for improper purpose.

  III. DISCUSSION

  A. Procedural History: Overview of Hass's Pleadings

  As previously stated, Hass's Complaint alleged that Defendants, collectively referred to as "The RICO Enterprise," had conspired to, inter alia, violate his Due Process rights by "fixing" the outcome of his dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. See Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 18-67. Hass's Complaint contained allegations of the behavior of his ex-wife, former in-laws and other persons involved with the dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings, concluding that "[t]he DuPage Courts are a lucrative shakedown racketeering Enterprise operating under color of law." Id. ¶ 17.

  The record does not reflect that Hass served any Defendants. However, certain Defendants responded to the Complaint by filing motions to dismiss. On December 22, 2003, Defendant Galatzer-Levy filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing Hass's Complaint was barred by the statute of limitations and also failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On January 12, 2004, Defendant Kintz also filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and that the Complaint should be stricken, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), as it was entirely scandalous. Kintz also argued that Hass's Complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, based upon a similar lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of DuPage County. On June 16, 2000, Hass filed a lawsuit, case number 00 L 00586, in the Circuit Court of DuPage County naming Kintz and others as defendants. See ...


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