Guan v. Ran et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 8/28/17. (gwalk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
BING RAN, et al.,
M E M O R A N D U M
O P I N I O N
This matter is before the Court on Defendants Bing Ran;
Advanced System Technology and Management, Inc. (“AdSTM”); and Qi
Tech, LLC (“Qi Tech”) (collectively, the “Defendants”) Motion for
For the following reasons, the Court will
deny Defendants’ motion.
The factual background of this case is recited in detail in
the Court’s July 6, 2017, Memorandum Opinion and Order granting
Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
Familiarity with that
Memorandum Opinion and Order are presumed.
Defendants filed the instant motion for sanctions on August
On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed his
Defendants replied on August 16, 2017.
This matter is now ripe for disposition.
A court’s inherent power allows it to sanction attorneys
who take actions in bad faith, wantonly, oppressively, or
Royal Ins. V. Lynnhaven Marine Boatel, Inc., 216 F.
Supp. 2d 562, 567 (E.D. Va. 2002).
This power should be “exercised
with great caution” and can only be used to assess attorney’s fees
against the responsible party if the court finds “that fraud has been
practiced upon it, or that the very temple of justice has been
Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted).
burden of proof for “demonstrating an entitlement to attorneys’ fees
[under the court’s inherent powers] rests on the moving party.”
Stradtman v. Republic Servs., 121 F. Supp. 3d 578, 581 (E.D. Va.
2015) (citing Morris v. Wachovia Sec., Inc., 448 F.3d 268, 284 (4th
Defendants move for sanctions against Plaintiff for his
decision to file an Amended Complaint, which Defendants assert made
“only minor tweaks and revisions” to his claims, rather than
voluntarily dismissing his lawsuit in its entirety.
Sanctions [Dkt. 63] at 6.
Def. Mot. for
Defendants contend that Plaintiff should
have recognized the “total lack of a factual basis to support any [of
his] claim[s] under the [Trafficking Victims Protection Act].”
Moreover, Defendants allege that Plaintiff’s claim seeking a
declaratory judgment ultimately failed to satisfy the Article III
case or controversy requirement. 1
Id. at 7.
Finally, Defendants note
that the Court declined to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s
remaining state law claim.
Id. at 7-8.
Based upon this Court’s
dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit, Defendants now seek $82,358.24 in
attorneys’ fees and costs.
Id. at 9.
In the instant case, Defendants have failed to make a
showing that Plaintiff’s counsel engaged in the type of bad faith
conduct that would warrant the imposition of sanctions pursuant to
this Court’s inherent powers.
Accordingly, the Court declines to
invoke those sanctions. 2
For the reasons set forth above, the Court will deny
Defendants’ motion for sanctions.
August 28, 2017
An appropriate Order will issue.
James C. Cacheris
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Defendants’ motion fails to acknowledge that the Court based this determination on
two factors: (1) Defendant AdSTM had never sought to enforce Plaintiff’s noncompetition agreement; and (2) AdSTM made assurances, in its opposition brief, that
it had no intention of doing so. See Mem. Op. [Dkt. 60] at 15.
Defendants did not move for sanctions under Rule 11, nor could they have after the
case’s dismissal. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, Application Notes (“Given the ‘safe
harbor’ provisions discussed below, a party cannot delay serving its Rule 11 motion
until conclusion of the case (or judicial rejection of the offending
contention).”); see also Royal Ins., 216 F. Supp. 2d at 565 (“Rule 11 Sanctions are
not available when the moving party waits to serve the motion after the final
disposition of the claim between the parties.”) (internal citation omitted).
Nevertheless, the Court would be remiss if it did not point out that the Defendants
failed to comply with Rule 11’s “safe harbor” provisions here. Defendants did not
provide Plaintiff with formal or informal notice of their intention to seek
sanctions based upon the filing of his Amended Complaint. They did not offer him
at least 21 days to respond. Instead, Defendants waited until after the Court
ruled on their motions to dismiss to spring a motion for sanctions on Plaintiff.
Thus, had Defendants been able to seek sanctions under Rule 11 today, such a motion
would have ultimately been denied as untimely. See Royal Ins., 216 F. Supp. 2d at
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