Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sanctions: A Reasonable Pro Se vs. a Reasonable Lawyer

The pro se plaintiff in Rugroden v. State Bank of Park Rapids, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84920 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2008), sued, among others, a Minnesota town over which the federal court in San Jose had no personal jurisdiction:

"Although Rule 11 applies to pro se plaintiffs, the court must take into account a plaintiff's pro se status when it determines whether the filing was reasonable." Warren v. Guelker, 29 F.3d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir. 1994). This is an objective standard of reasonableness, but the court has discretion to take into account a litigants pro se status. See Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enterprises, Inc., 892 F.2d 802, 811 (9th Cir. 1989), citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 Advisory Committee Note, reprinted in 97 F.R.D. 165, 198 (1983). Accordingly, "what is objectively reasonable for a pro se litigant and for an attorney may not be the same."

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