Inherent Power and § 1927 Sanctions Are Punitive as Well as Deterrent and Therefore May Exceed the Amount Required for Deterrence

From Stalley v. Mountain States Health Alliance, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 13895 (6th Cir. July 8, 2011) (affirming district court opinion excerpted in our post of February 11, 2010):

Stalley contends that the district court did not "explain[] why all of the fees and expenses incurred [by Defendants'] law firm . . . had to be awarded to assure the desired deterrence." (Stalley Br. 30.) However, we have explained that "sanctions imposed under [28 U.S.C. § 1927] or pursuant to a court's inherent authority are [also] punitive." Red Carpet Studios Div. of Source Advantage, Ltd. v. Sater, 465 F.3d 642, 647 (6th Cir. 2006). So even assuming that the award was greater than necessary to deter future violations — a contention of which Stalley has failed to convince us — another valid basis exists for the award that Stalley has not challenged. See id. And the amount of the award does not strike us as unreasonable under the circumstances. The district court thus did not abuse its discretion in awarding that amount or concluding that such an amount was "appropriate" and "reasonable."

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