Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sanctions — Pro Se Status Not an “Impenetrable Shield” from Sanctions

From McKenna v. Nestle Purina Petcare Co., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30171 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 24, 2009):

Being a pro se litigant is not a license for McKenna to state and do whatever he wants. There is not a different standard for Rule 11 sanctions for attorneys and non-attorneys. Spurlock v. Demby, No. 92-3842, 1995 WL 89003, at *2 (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 1995). Rather, Rule 11 "speaks of attorneys and parties in a single breath and applies to them a single standard." Id. (quoting Bus. Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enters., Inc., 498 U.S. 533, 548 (1991). Pro se filings do not serve as an "impenetrable shield, for one acting pro se has no license to harass others, clog the judicial machinery with meritless litigation, and abuse already overloaded court dockets." Grider v. Irvin, No. 1:06CV-53-TBR, 2007 WL 4441214, at *4 (W.D. Ky. Dec. 17, 2007) (granting Rule 11 sanction of attorney's fees against pro se plaintiffs for filing an unreasonable motion to amend judgment); see also Cooksey v. McElroy, No. 1:07cv581, 2008 WL 4367593, *25 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 24, 2008) (finding that it is appropriate to impose sanctions against a pro se plaintiff for his violation of Rule 11); Kish v. U.S., No. 1:95:MC-109, 1996 WL 196730, *5 (W.D. Mich. Jan. 30, 1996) (granting monetary Rule 11 sanction against pro se plaintiffs).

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