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Arroyo v. Zamora

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

June 19, 2018

VALERIE ARROYO, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL ZAMORA, et. al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          FRANK D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Court's Order to Show Cause entered on May 30, 2018. (Doc. No. 18). The Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause why her filing of the “Amended Complaint” does not warrant sanctions. (Doc. No. 18). The Court stated the failure to show cause or respond, “may result in the entry of sanctions, including but not necessarily limited to a pre-filing injunction.” (Doc. No. 18 at 2-3). Plaintiff filed a response on June 13, 2018. (Doc. No. 19).

         As previously summarized by the Court in its May 30, 2018 order:

Plaintiff commenced this case pro se and moved to proceed in forma pauperis on December 15, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 1, 2). On March 21, 2018, the Court, after granting Plaintiff in forma pauperis status for the limited purpose of initial review, dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice “as frivolous, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and for seeking damages against immune parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii), and for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction” and directed the Clerk to close the case. (Doc. No. 8 at 12). On the same day, the Clerk's Judgment was entered in accordance with the Court's order and the case closed. (Doc. No. 9). Plaintiff then filed a pro se “Order, Memorandum, and Recommendation” on March 27, 2018, which the Court construed as a motion to reconsider and denied on April 27, 2018. (Doc. Nos. 10, 12). Plaintiff filed three days later on April 30, 2018 a pro se “Motion to Vacate Sua Sponte Order, ” which the Court construed as Second Motion for Reconsideration and denied. (Doc. Nos. 13, 14). In its May 1, 2018 order denying the Second Motion for Reconsideration, the Court “cautioned that continued frivolous and duplicative pro se filings may result in the imposition of sanctions.”
(Doc. No. 14 at 2). On May 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a pro se “Motion to Alter, Amend a Judgment under FRCP 59(e).” (Doc. No. 15). On May 7, 2018, the Court denied Plaintiff's “Motion to Alter, Amend a Judgment under FRCP 59(e)” and further warned that it “may impose sanctions, including a pre-filing injunction, if Plaintiff continues to file frivolous and duplicative pro se filings.” (Doc. No. 16 at 2). Plaintiff filed this “Amended Complaint” on May 18, 2018. (Doc. No. 17).

(Doc. No. 18).

         Courts have authority to sanction the filings or advocation by counsel or unrepresented persons if they have violated Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b) and “to limit access to the courts by vexatious and repetitive litigants” pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am. Inc., 390 F.3d 812, 817 (4th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Rule 11(b) states:

By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper-whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it-an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's 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.

         When considering sanctions limiting access to the courts, courts must proceed in accordance “with constitutional guarantees of due process of law and access to the courts” and should employ such authority “sparingly[.]” Cromer, 390 F.3d at 817 (citing U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1). Therefore, courts provide the “litigant notice and an opportunity to be heard[, ]” id. at 819 (citations omitted), which may be in the form of an order “to show cause[, ]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(3).

         Then, the Court “must weigh all the relevant circumstances, including (1) the party's history of litigation, in particular whether he has filed vexatious, harassing, or duplicative lawsuits; (2) whether the party had a good faith basis for pursuing the litigation, or simply intended to harass; (3) the extent of the burden on the courts and other parties resulting from the party's filings; and (4) the adequacy of alternative sanctions.” Cromer, 390 F.3d at 818 (citing Safir v. United States Lines, Inc., 792 F.2d 19, 24 (2d Cir. 1986); Green v. Warden, United States Penitentiary, 699 F.2d 364, 368-69, 370 n.8 (7th Cir. 1983); Pavilonis v. King, 626 F.2d 1075, ...


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