United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
REBECCA RUTHERFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court in this pro se prisoner civil rights suit
is Plaintiff Guy Don Minze's Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions
Against Marvin Moos, Counsel for Defendants (ECF No. 73). For
the reasons stated, the Motion is DENIED.
Rule of Civil Procedure 11 authorizes a court to impose
sanctions on a party or an attorney who files a pleading for
an improper purpose, such as to harass the opposing party,
delay the proceedings, or increase the cost of litigation.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b), (c). “The central purpose of Rule
11 is to deter baseless filings in district court and thus .
. . streamline the administration and procedure of the
federal courts, ” (Cooter & Gell v. Hartmax
Corp., 469 U.S. 384, 393 (1990)), and to “spare
innocent parties and overburdened courts from the filing of
frivolous lawsuits, ” (Cappa Fund III, L.L.C. v.
Actherm Holding, A.S., 2011 WL 817384, at *2 (N.D. Tex.
Feb. 21, 2011), rec. adopted, 2011 WL 816861 (N.D.
Tex. Mar. 9, 2011)). “However, [Rule 11] sanctions are
normally reserved for the rare and exceptional case where the
action is clearly frivolous, legally unreasonable,
or without legal foundation or brought for an improper
purpose. It is an extraordinary remedy, one to be exercised
with extreme caution.” Laughlin v. Perot, 1997
WL 135676, at *8 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 12, 1997) (internal
footnotes and quotations omitted, emphasis in the original).
under Rule 11's safe-harbor provision, the party seeking
sanctions must first serve the persons being accused of
sanctionable conduct with the motion, and, if after 21 days
have passed the accused person has not withdrawn or corrected
the offending document, the motion may be filed with the
court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(2). In other words, Rule 11
requires the movant to first serve a copy of the actual Rule
11 motion for sanctions on the persons accused of
sanctionable conduct at least 21 days prior to the filing of
that motion. Castro & Co., L.L.C. v. Diamond Offshore
Servs., Ltd., 2018 WL 6069973, at *9 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 29,
2018), rec. adopted, 2018 WL 6068977 (N.D. Tex. Nov.
threshold matter here, Plaintiff's motion for Rule 11
sanctions is improper because he has not complied with Rule
11's safe-harbor and given Mr. Moos the required 21-day
opportunity to withdraw or correct the allegedly sanctionable
documents. The certificate of service indicates that
Plaintiff mailed the motion to Mr. Moos on July 17, 2019.
Mot. 24. The Motion was entered in the Court's electronic
filing system, and was thus before the Court, only nine days
later-on July 26, 2019. The Motion must fail for that reason.
See Elliott v. Tilton, 64 F.3d 213, 216 (5th Cir.
1995) (finding sanctions under Rule 11 inappropriate because
the party seeking sanctions did not comply with the
procedural “safe harbor” prerequisite of serving
the motion before filing it); see also Tompkins v.
Cyr, 995 F.Supp. 689, 693 (N.D. Tex. 1998) (refusing to
impose Rule 11 sanctions because the parties seeking
sanctions did not comply with the “safe harbor”
requirement; rather the certificates of service showed that
the motions were served on opposing counsel either the day
they were filed or shortly before), aff'd in part and
rev'd in part on other grounds, 202 F.3d 770 (5th
Cir. 2000); Zuffante v. Stephens, 2013 WL 4829193,
at *2 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 9, 2013) (refusing to impose Rule 11
sanctions where movant, a pro se prisoner, failed to
comply with “safe harbor” requirement).
Rule 11 sanctions are not warranted based on the record in
this case. Plaintiff appears to assert that Mr. Moos should
be sanctioned for filing the following documents:
1. Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion to
Appoint Counsel (ECF No. 26) because it makes a
“general and frivolous claim, that this Court lacks
jurisdiction over the subject matter, of this case” and
asserts that “the Plaintiff failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted”;
2. Defendants' Answer to the Amended Complaint (ECF No.
67) because it likewise argued lack of jurisdiction and
failure to state a claim, as well as denied that Plaintiff
had exhausted his administrative remedies for the claims made
against Defendant Abel Flores; and
3. Defendants' Amended Answer to the Amended Complaint
(ECF No. 70) because it was filed without
14-17. The first filing, the Response to Plaintiffs Motion to
Appoint Counsel, simply does not make the arguments Plaintiff
claims it does. The Response briefly states the rules
regarding a civil-rights complainant's right to the
appointment of counsel and argues appointment of counsel is
not warranted in this instance. It makes no mention of
subject matter jurisdiction or Plaintiffs failure to state a
claim. While the second filing, the Answer, does make
assertions regarding jurisdiction, failure to state a claim,
and failure to exhaust, the Court concludes that the
assertions are not clearly frivolous, legally unreasonable,
without legal foundation, or brought for an improper purpose.
Finally, Rule 11 sanctions are not warranted for the third
document, the Amended Answer. A motion for Rule 11 sanctions
is not the proper vehicle to challenge a pleading improperly
filed without leave. And, in any event, the Amended Answer
here was not filed for an improper purpose, nor does it bring
arguments that would otherwise give rise to Rule 11
foregoing reasons, the Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions is