TBD | How-To Draft a Motion for Sanctions in Federal Court (Rule 11)
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How-To: Write a Motion for Sanctions

Background: Your civil opponent's misconduct has defiled the legal proceedings
Problem: Your civil opponent has refused to atone for his/her/its misconduct
Solution: You ask the Court to penalize your civil opponent

I. Definitions

Bad Faith
"breach of faith; willful failure to respond to plain, well-understood statutory or contractual obligations; dishonesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned." Extrinsic Fraud
"fraud that prevents a party from knowing about his or her rights or defenses or from having a fair opportunity to present or litigate them at a trial. It is a ground for equitable relief from a judgment." Sanction
"3. a consequence of punishment for violation of accepted norms of social conduct, which may be of two kinds: those that redress civil injuries (civil sanctions) and those that punish crimes (penal sanctions)." Wanton
"grossly negligent or careless; with a reckless disregard of consequences." Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016

II. Legal Citations

Rule 11(c) Fed. R. Civ. P. | Sanctions
(1) In General. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation...
(2) Motion for Sanctions. A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred for the motion.
(4) Nature of a Sanction. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation.

III. Samples

# PDF Comments
1TBD case. Pro Se Filing. USFLMD. Defendant's lies, fraud & bad faith.
2USFLMD | 2021 | Attorney Filing | ADA Case | Discovery | Sought defense prohibition + default

IV. Templates

# Word Comments
1USFLMD Version | Replace all placeholder tags (eg "[plfName]" becomes "John Doe").

V. Quick Commentary

  • Purpose: To preserve the sanctity of the judicial system
    "The goal of Rule 11 sanctions is to ‘reduce frivolous claims, defenses, or motions, and to deter costly meritless maneuver"

    - see Massengale v. Ray, 267 F.3d 1298, 1302 (11th Cir. 2001)

    "Rule 11 sanctions are designed to discourage dilatory or abusive tactics and help to streamline the litigation process by lessening frivolous claims or defenses."

    - see Donaldson v. Clark, 819 F.2d 1551, 1557 (11th Cir. 1987)

  • Basis: Frivolous, Bogus, Dilatory
    "Rule 11 sanctions are warranted when a party files a pleading that (1) has no reasonable factual basis; (2) is based on a legal theory that has no reasonable chance of success and that cannot be advanced as a reasonable argument to change existing law; and (3) is filed in bad faith for an improper purpose."

    - see Baker v. Alderman, 158 F.3d 516, 524 (11th Cir. 1998)

  • Bad News: Federal Courts cannot award attorney fees to pro se litigants (even if the pro se litigants are attorneys themselves) "Because a party proceeding pro se cannot have incurred attorney's fees as an expense, a district court cannot order a violating party to pay a pro se litigant a reasonable attorney's fee as part of a sanction."

    - see Massengale v. Ray, 267 F.3d 1298, 1302 (11th Cir. 2001)

  • Standard of Review: Nasco Factors (Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 46 (1991))
    • bad faith
  • Please download as many sample documents as you'd like
    • Contact TBD for more free samples
  • Feel free to use the templates (see Part IV - above) to help draft your 'Motion for Sanctions'
  • Save the final version as a PDF file.
  • File the final version in court

VI. Additional Notes

VII. Bibliography

VIII. Conclusion

If your civil opponent is engaging in misconduct then you can ask the Court to penalize him/her/it with sanctions.

Congratulations! You're now booked up on how to write a Motion for Sanctions!

Please get the justice you deserve.


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