United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Lee Seamans (“Seamans”) brought this action
against Hoffman, Swartz and Associates (“HSA”),
Paris Tauriac (“Tauriac”) and Les Covington
(together, “Defendants”), alleging a violation of
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq. After succeeding on a motion for summary
judgment, Tauriac filed a post-judgment motion for sanctions
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 11. For the reasons set forth herein,
Tauriac's motion  is denied.
and Procedural Background
filed his initial complaint against Defendants on August 26,
2013. See Compl., ECF No. 1. In this complaint,
Seamans alleged that HSA contacted him by telephone on June
11, 2013, about a previously discharged debt, in violation of
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). See
generally id. Seamans alleged that Tauriac and Covington
were “the managers, operators, supervisors, and/or
owners of [HSA] and ha[d] direct control over the operations
of HSA.” Id. ¶ 6.
the Defendants responded to the initial complaint, and this
Court entered a default judgment against all three on
November 20, 2013. See Order of 11/20/13, ECF No.
16. Seamans thereafter seized approximately $50, 000 from two
bank accounts that he believed belonged to HSA. See
Mot. Vacate ¶ 6, ECF No. 23.
promptly filed a motion to vacate the default judgment,
arguing that she had not been properly served with the
complaint, and that the funds were seized from bank accounts
belonging to her, not HSA. See id. She also filed a
motion to dismiss, in which she argued that she had sold her
ownership interest in HSA via a Stock Purchase Agreement
dated May 15, 2013, several weeks before the phone call at
issue. 1st Mot. Dismiss ¶ 2, ECF No. 36. Tauriac
attached the Stock Purchase Agreement as an exhibit to her
motion to vacate, and she referenced it repeatedly in her
motion to dismiss. See Mot. Vacate, Ex. B; 1st Mot.
Dismiss ¶ 2. This Court granted both motions.
See Order of 5/29/14, ECF No. 29; Order of 1/13/15,
ECF No. 54.
subsequently filed an Amended Complaint on January 26, 2015,
in which he argued that Tauriac was either still an owner of
HSA, or alternatively, that she had commingled her assets
with HSA's, rendering her liable to corporate veil
piercing. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 54-62 ECF No. 55. In
support of the veil piercing contention, Seamans argued that
a bank account titled “Paris Tauriac d/b/a Hoffman,
Swartz & Associates, ” in combination with
Tauriac's own testimony regarding her handling of
HSA's funds, could establish that Tauriac had commingled
her personal assets with HSA's. Id. In addition,
a document from the Georgia Secretary of State listed Tauriac
as HSA's owner as of June 13, 2013, two days after the
alleged phone call, and nearly a month after the date of the
alleged Purchase Agreement. Pl.'s Resp. Mot. Sanctions,
Ex. C, ECF No. 108.
sought to dismiss the Amended Complaint on the same grounds
as her first motion to dismiss. See 2d Mot. Dismiss,
ECF No. 58. The Court denied the second motion, finding that
“Plaintiff Seamans has alleged sufficient facts to
state a plausible claim to pierce [HSA's] corporate veil
based on [Tauriac's] alleged commingling of HSA and
Tauriac's property.” Order of 7/27/15, ECF No. 80.
parties eventually filed cross-motions for summary judgment,
and the Court found in favor of Tauriac, entering final
judgment on September 29, 2016. See Seamans v.
Hoffman, No. 13 C 6027, 2016 WL 5476249 (N.D. Ill. Sept.
29, 2016). The Court concluded that Seamans had not pointed
to evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that
“Tauriac controlled or improperly dealt with HSA after
it was sold.” Id. at *3. In so ruling, the
Court also denied Seamans's claim that Tauriac
misrepresented that the accounts seized in executing the
default judgment belonged to her, and not HSA. Id.
subsequently filed a motion for sanctions, Def.'s 1st
Mot. Sanctions, ECF No. 96, which was stricken for failure to
comply with Rule 11's safe-harbor requirement.
See Order of 11/02/16, ECF No. 101. Tauriac mailed a
letter notifying Seamans of her second motion for sanctions
on November 17, 2016, and she filed it twenty-one days later.
Def.'s 2d Mot. Sanctions ¶ 7, ECF No. 102.
motion for sanctions, Tauriac asserts that Seamans lacked a
factual basis for including her as a Defendant in his Amended
Complaint, and she further asserts that he pursued the action
against her with an improper purpose. Def.'s 2d Mot.
Sanctions ¶¶ 2, 6. Seamans raises both procedural
and merit-based objections to Tauriac's motion. First,
Seamans contends that Rule 11 does not allow for
post-judgment motions for sanctions, and he requests that
this Court deny the motion as untimely. Pl.'s Resp. Mot.
Sanctions at 2-3, ECF No. 108. Seamans also argues that
Tauriac's motion fails to raise an adequate basis for
imposing sanctions, and so cannot succeed regardless of its
procedural deficiencies. Id. at 3-5.
Defendant's Procedural Compliance with Rule 11
Tauriac's first motion for sanctions, filed on October
31, 2016, was stricken for failure to comply with Rule
11(c)(2)'s twenty-one-day safe-harbor provision.
See Order of 11/02/16. Tauriac sought to alleviate
this deficiency by notifying Seamans of the present motion on
November 17, 2016, twenty-one days before she filed it with
this Court. Def.'s 2d Mot. Sanctions ¶ 7. Seamans
concedes that Tauriac waited twenty-one days after service
before filing her motion, but he nevertheless contends that a
post-judgment motion for sanctions is necessarily untimely
where no notice of the motion was given prior to
judgment. Pl.'s Resp. Mot. Sanctions at 2-3. In