A lower court imposed sanctions on a lawyer who filed lengthy and frivolous filings in a dispute with his brother. The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sanctions for the Florida-based bankruptcy attorney. The pleadings, according to reports, were riddled with exclamation points, rants, and at one point even quoted Bugs Bunny.
In its December 15 unpublished per curiam opinion, the appellate court placed sanctions on the man. The behavior by the bankruptcy attorney included comments during a deposition telling opposing counsel to “shush, shush, shush” as well as frivolous filings, one of which included a haiku in a motion seeking reconsideration of a court ruling. The bankruptcy attorney further quoted Looney Tunes character Bugs Bunny when arguing that the sanctions motion against him was lacking specific allegations.
According to the opinion, the sanctions started from the attorney’s self-representation in litigation that began with a probate case and then moved into bankruptcy court. Initially appointed as the personal representative of his mother’s estate, the attorney was then removed by the court based on his brother’s request due to filing for bankruptcy and listing the brother as holding a non-priority unsecured claim. The brother, on the other hand, alleged that the debt was a result of the attorney converting the estate property for personal use and, therefore, was not dischargeable in bankruptcy court. The attorney claimed the bankruptcy court lacked jurisdiction; in response, his brother filed for sanctions.
At a sanction hearing, the bankruptcy court ordered the attorney to pay his brother nearly $3,000 in attorney’s fees. After attending a hearing on the underlying bankruptcy case, the brother again filed for sanctions. Ruling on the merits of the case, the bankruptcy court held that the attorney acted in bad faith throughout the litigation, awarding the brother nearly $10,000 in costs. According to the bankruptcy court, the attorney suffocated the docked with frivolous and unnecessarily long pleadings as well as asked repetitive and rude questions in depositions. The court further noted the attorney was wrong when he claimed the bankruptcy court lacked jurisdiction over his brother’s claim.
A district court noted that the bankruptcy court lacked authority to impose sanctions and, therefore, interpreted its order as a recommendation imposing the same sanctions. The attorney appealed. Not only did the 11th Circuit uphold the lower court’s sanctions, but placed additional sanctions of almost $3,500 for expenses incurred by the attorney’s brother for the appeal justifying its decision on the attorney’s baseless arguments, according to an article by Law360.