Del Castillo v. International Longshore & Warehouse Union et al

Filing 44

Order by Hon. William H. Orrick denying 40 Motion for Sanctions. (jmdS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/19/2017)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 ANTONIO DEL CASTILLO, Plaintiff, 8 INTERNATIONAL LONGSHORE & WAREHOUSE UNION, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SANCTIONS v. 9 10 Case No. 16-cv-03903-WHO Re: Dkt. No. 40 Defendant. 12 Defendant International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“Union”) has moved for 13 14 sanctions against plaintiff Antonio Del Castillo and/or his attorney, Jonathan Matthews, under 28 15 U.S.C. § 1927 and this court’s inherent authority. Mot. [Dkt. No. 40]. There is no need for oral 16 argument. The motion is DENIED. 17 Del Castillo originally pursued this case as a pro se plaintiff but retained attorney 18 Matthews to represent him in opposing the Union’s motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 29. 19 The Union asserts that Castillo, and later Matthews, unreasonably pursued this case after the 20 Union apprised Castillo of its meritorious defenses in its Answer, at his deposition, and in its 21 summary judgment motion, causing the Union to incur excessive costs and attorneys’ fees. Mot. 22 at 1-3. 23 Sanctions under § 1927 “must be supported by a finding of subjective bad faith, which is 24 present when an attorney knowingly or recklessly raises a frivolous argument or argues a 25 meritorious claim for the purposes of harassment.” B.K.B. v. Maui Police Dep’t, 276 F.3d 1091, 26 1107 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted) (alteration in original). The 27 Union asserts that Del Castillo’s claims were frivolous because (1) he failed to state sufficient 28 facts; (2) he failed to exhaust his union remedies; (3) the claims were barred by the applicable 1 statutes of limitations; (4) his injuries were the result of acts or omissions against individuals 2 besides the Union; and (5) he failed to join a necessary party. Mot. at 2. The Union asserts that 3 Del Castillo recklessly pursued his claims not only because it outlined these deficiencies in its 4 Answer and summary judgment motion but also because Del Castillo admitted key facts that 5 undermined his claims at his deposition, and yet Del Castillo pursued this case, opposing the 6 summary judgment motion and refusing to withdraw his claims with prejudice. Id. 7 There is no dispute that on the record presented Del Castillo did not have strong arguments 8 to support his claims. See Dkt. No. 38. But there is no evidence that Del Castillo brought these 9 claims to harass the Union or knew the claims were frivolous. The record suggests that Del Castillo had an earnest belief that he had been wronged and that his claims had merit. His failure 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 to recognize the legal weaknesses and procedural issues with his claims can reasonably be 12 attributed to his lack of legal expertise as a pro se plaintiff. 13 Nor will I sanction his attorney, Matthews, who was retained only a week and a half before 14 the summary judgment opposition was due. While Matthews, as an attorney, was better situated 15 to assess the legal merits of Mr. Del Castillo’s claims, he had limited time to evaluate all the facts 16 and legal issues at play and to gather and present all the relevant evidence to the court. I will not 17 sanction him for trying to assist Del Castillo make his case. 18 On this record there is insufficient evidence of subjective bad faith on the part of Del 19 Castillo and Matthews to justify imposing sanctions under § 1927. The Union’s motion for 20 sanctions is DENIED. 21 22 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 19, 2017 23 24 William H. Orrick United States District Judge 25 26 27 28 2

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?