United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
E. MENDOZA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Sanctions (“First Motion for Sanctions, ” Doc.
32) and Motion for Sanctions (“Second Motion for
Sanctions, ” Doc. 36). Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc.
40) to Defendants' First Motion for Sanctions, but she
did not respond to the Second Motion. For the reasons set
forth herein, Defendants' motions will be denied.
filed this case on August 6, 2015, alleging violations of the
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1681 et seq., Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et
seq., and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
(“FCCPA”), Fla. Stat. §§ 559.55-.785,
against Defendants related to efforts to collect debts
allegedly owed by Plaintiff. (See generally Compl.,
Doc. 1). Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
30), seeking summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's
claims. On April 10, 2017, this Court granted summary
judgment, (see Apr. 10, 2017 Order, Doc. 47), and
retained jurisdiction to consider the pending motions for
First Motion for Sanctions
their First Motion for Sanctions, Defendants seek sanctions
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. Defendants
argue that Plaintiff lacked a reasonable factual or legal
basis to pursue this litigation.
relevant, Rule 11(b) provides that, by filing a motion or
pleading, the filer certifies that to the best of his or her
“knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an
inquiry reasonable under the circumstances”:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such
as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase
the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are
warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for
extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for
establishing new law;
(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if
specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary
support after a reasonable opportunity for further
investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the
evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably
based on belief or a lack of information.
11(b)(2) and (b)(3) go to whether a claim is legally or
factually frivolous. See Thompson v. RelationServe Media,
Inc., 610 F.3d 628, 664 (11th Cir. 2010). “[A]
litigant's obligations with respect to the
contents” of pleadings or motions “are not
measured solely as of the time they are filed with or
submitted to the court, but include reaffirming to the court
and advocating positions contained in those pleadings and
motions after learning that they cease to have any
merit.” Turner v. Sungard Bus. Sys., Inc., 91
F.3d 1418, 1422 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b),
(c) advisory committee's note to 1993 amendment).
Eleventh Circuit, a Rule 11 challenge as to frivolity
requires a two-prong inquiry- “whether the legal claims
or factual contentions are objectively frivolous, and, if so,
whether a reasonably competent attorney should have known
they were frivolous.” Thompson, 610 F.3d at
665. Under the first step, “[a] factual claim is
frivolous if no reasonably competent attorney could conclude
that it has a reasonable evidentiary basis.”
Id. Under the second step, the question is
“whether the attorney should have known they were
frivolous” or, stated differently, whether “a
reasonable investigation would have revealed the error to a
reasonably competent attorney.” Id.
“Both inquiries measure attorney conduct under an
objective reasonably competent attorney standard.”
Id. “Rule 11 applies to pro se plaintiffs, but
the court must take into account the plaintiff's pro se
status when determining whether the filing was
reasonable.” Thomas v. Evans, 880 F.2d 1235,
1240 (11th Cir. 1989).
conduct-particularly taking into account her pro se
status-was not sufficiently objectionable to merit sanctions
under Rule 11. Defendants complain that Plaintiff lacked a
factual basis to pursue claims against Verizon Communications
Inc. or an FDCPA claim against Verizon Florida LLC. Although
Plaintiff did not formally withdraw those claims during the
so-called “safe harbor” period, Plaintiff did
express her willingness to drop those claims and ceased
arguing that those claims had merit in her subsequent
filings. (See Doc. 40 at 3-4; Resp. to Summ. J.