No Sanctions for Litigant’s False Sworn Statement of Fact Resulting from Mistake, Not Bad Faith

From McCreary v. Wertanen, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 27404 (6th Cir. Dec. 8, 2010):

McCreary brought his complaint asserting violations of his constitutional rights against various employees of the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, and Baraga County Prosecutor Joseph O'Leary. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) and (b)(1), McCreary filed motions for entry of default and default judgment against O'Leary after he failed to respond to the complaint within twenty days. McCreary also moved for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, asserting that O'Leary made misrepresentations to the court in response to the default motions. The district court denied McCreary's motions.***

McCreary contends that the district court should have imposed sanctions under Rule 11 because O'Leary committed perjury in response to the default motions by claiming that he executed a waiver of service. We review the district court's denial of Rule 11 sanctions for abuse of discretion. Rentz v. Dynasty Apparel Indus., Inc., 556 F.3d 389, 395 (6th Cir. 2009). In response to McCreary's motion for sanctions, O'Leary conceded that he mistook the "Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons and Complaint by Mail" as a request for waiver of service. Declining to impose Rule 11 sanctions, the district court found that O'Leary's "mistake was the result of a simple misunderstanding" and agreed with the magistrate judge that there was no bad faith or obstruction. Given that there was no evidence that O'Leary intentionally misstated the facts, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying McCreary's motion for Rule 11 sanctions.

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