Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Rule 11 Sanctions — Invoking Rule 11 in Opposition Papers Insufficient — Separate Motion Must Be Filed, in Accordance with Rule 11(c)(2)

Pineda v. JTCH Apartments, LLC, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22569 (5th Cir. Dec. 19, 2016):

Defendants appeal the district court's award of attorney's fees to Pineda. They do not, however, contest the accuracy of the time entries or the reasonableness of that time in light of the factors listed in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974). Instead, they assert that the plaintiffs violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 by filing a complaint in bad faith. They also rely upon the doctrine of excessive demand, a creature of Texas law. Both of these arguments rest on allegations that plaintiffs' counsel did not settle the case at an early state before significant fees accrued. The problem is that Defendants waived these arguments by not [*12]  bringing them before the district court in a proper manner. With respect to Rule 11, Defendants never filed a separate motion for sanctions with the district court, instead only invoking the rule in their opposition to Pineda's motion for attorneys' fees. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2) ("A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion . . . ."). As a result, there are no district court findings on the fact-intensive allegations Defendants raise--and the counterallegations opposing counsel makes about the course of the litigation--for us to review or consider in assessing the fee award. As to the excessive demand argument, Defendants did not raise it in any manner in the district court. See Crawford Prof'l Drugs, Inc. v. CVS Caremark Corp., 748 F.3d 249, 267 (5th Cir. 2014) (stating general rule that arguments not raised before the district court are waived).

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