United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
LANEY J. HARRIS PLAINTIFF
THE CITY OF TEXARKANA, ARKANSAS, et al. DEFENDANTS
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Default
Judgment. ECF No. 15. Defendants have responded to this
Motion. ECF No. 17. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) and (3) (2009), the Honorable Susan O.
Hickey referred this Motion to this Court. A hearing was held
on this Motion on November 5, 2018. After considering this
Motion and arguments of counsel, the Court finds as
Harris (“Plaintiff”), is a City Director for the
City of Texarkana, Arkansas. Plaintiff filed his pro
se Complaint on June 5, 2018. ECF No.1. In his
Complaint, Plaintiff named as Defendants the other six
elected City Directors and the city of Texarkana, Arkansas.
Id. With this Motion, Plaintiff seeks the entry of a
default judgment against Defendants Ruth Penny-Bell, Linda
Teeters, Barbara S. Miner, and Terri Kenner Peavy for failure
to file a timely answer. ECF No. 15.
to the Affidavit of Service, Defendant Penny Ruth-Bell was
served on August 30, 2018 and her Answer was due September
20, 2018; Defendant Linda Teeters was served on September 4,
2018 and her Answer was due September 25, 2018; Defendant
Barbara S. Miner was served on August 29, 2018 and her Answer
was due September 19, 2018; and Defendant Terri Kenner Peavy
was served on September 4, 2018 and her Answer was due
September 25, 2018. ECF No. 8.
Ruth Penny-Bell, Linda Teeters, Barbara S. Miner, and Terri
Kenner Peavy answered Plaintiff's Complaint on September
5, 2018. ECF No. 7. On October 5, 2018, thirty days following
this timely filed Answer, Plaintiff filed this Motion for
Default. ECF No. 15.
hearing on November 5, 2018, Plaintiff orally moved to
withdraw his Motion for default.
hearing on November 5, 2018, Plaintiff stated, he never
received a copy of Defendants' Answer. He stated that he
only became aware of the timely filed Answer upon receipt of
Defendants' Response to the Motion. This statement by
Plaintiff appears to be false, given the fact that attached
to Plaintiff's Brief in Support of the Motion for Default
is a copy of this Court's docket which clearly shows
these Defendants' Answer filed on September 5, 2018. ECF
No. 16, Pg. 4.
note that although Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in
this matter, he is familiar with the rules of litigation in
this Court having filed three (3) previous pro se
lawsuits. Although pro se pleadings are to
be construed liberally, a pro se litigant is not
excused from complying with substantive and procedural law.
See Burgs v. Sissel, 745 F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir.
Rule of Civil Procedure 11 authorizes a court to impose
sanctions on a party who files a pleading for an improper
purpose, such as to harass the opposing party, delay the
proceedings, or increase the expense of
litigation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)-(c).
Sanctions under Rule 11 may be appropriate if the Court finds
that a document has been presented for an improper purpose,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1); the claims or defenses
of the signer are not supported by existing law or by a
good-faith argument for an extension of change in existing
law, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2); or the
allegations and other factual statements lack evidentiary
support or are unlikely to do so after a reasonable
opportunity for investigation, see Fed. R. Civ. P. .
11(b)(3). The purpose of Rule 11 is to “deter baseless
filings in district court, ” Cooter & Gell v.
Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 393, (1990). Further,
“Rule 11 makes sanctions mandatory when a violation of
the Rule occurs, but whether a violation has occurred is a
matter for the court to determine, and this determination
involves matters of judgment and degree. The issue is whether
the person who signed the pleading conducted a reasonable
inquiry into the facts and law supporting the
pleading.” O'Connell v. Champion Int'l
Corp., 812 F.2d 393, 395 (8th Cir. 1987)
matter, Plaintiff has clearly violated Rule 11(b)(1)-(b)(3).
There was simply no basis for which Plaintiff to seek the
entry of a default after each of the Defendants had filed
their timely Answer. Further, Plaintiff's attempts to
excuse his behavior by claiming he did not receive a copy of
their Answer is without merit as Plaintiff attached a copy of
the Court docket sheet to his Brief in Support of the Motion
which clearly shows the Defendants all filed a timely Answer.
Rule 11 states that sanctions “shall be limited to what
is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or
comparable conduct by others similarly situated.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(2). In this matter, simply denying
Plaintiff's Motion will not be a sufficient deterrent to
future action. A review of Plaintiff's previous pro
se matters before this Court show several motions denied
as premature, or seeking relief to which he was not entitled.
Further, Plaintiff has had more than one pleading dismissed
for failing to state a claim. As such, this Court finds a
monetary sanction appropriate and believes it will be
sufficient to deter repetition of future violation of Rule 11
by the Plaintiff.
on the foregoing, Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment
(ECF No. 15) is DENIED. Further, Plaintiff
is sanctioned in the amount of $100.00, said amount to be
paid the Clerk of ...