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Patrick O'keefe v. Harold Gist

October 2, 2012

PATRICK O'KEEFE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HAROLD GIST, IN HIS CAPACITY AS POLICE OFFICER, AND THE CITY OF GIRARD, ILLINOIS, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED 3:10-cv-03149-SEM-BGC # 28 Page 1 of 8 Tuesday, 02 October, 2012 05:24:46 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Attorney's Fees brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (d/e 26.) For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion.

BACKGROUND

On June 24, 2010, Plaintiff, Patrick O'Keefe, filed a three-count Complaint against the City of Girard and Sergeant Harold Gist of the Girard Police Department. (d/e 1.) The Complaint included: (1) a 28 U.S.C. § 1983 action for an alleged denial of property without due process of law; (2) a declaratory judgment action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201; and (3) a state law tort claim for conversion. The Complaint stemmed from an incident where Sergeant Gist found Plaintiff's dog, but Gist gave it to another individual after he was unable to identify the owner. (Compl. ¶ 16).

Magistrate Judge Cudmore issued a Report and Recommendation in this matter that dismissed all three Counts for failure to state a claim. (d/e 21.) See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff timely filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation. (d/e 22.) Subsequently, this Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. (d/e 24.) Defendants now file a Motion for Attorneys Fees as sanctions for an alleged violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (d/e 26).

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b) requires attorneys to make a reasonable inquiry into the facts and law prior to presenting any pleading, motion, or other paper before the court, so that the court may certify that:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a non-frivolous 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.

Under Rule 11, a district court may impose sanctions if a lawsuit is "not well grounded in fact and is not warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law." Nat'l Wrecking Co. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, Local 731, 990 F.2d 957, 963 (7th Cir. 1993). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b), (c). The court must "undertake an objective inquiry into whether the party or his counsel should have known that his position is ...


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