Request For Sanctions For Filing A Frivolous Lawsuit Requires Evidence Beyond A Mere Conclusory Assertion

In Flint v. Beneficial Financial I Inc. (Slip Copy, 2013 WL 552622, E.D.Cal., February 12, 2013), a United States District Court considered a defendant's motion for financial sanctions against a plaintiff because defendant asserted that plaintiff's lawsuit was frivolous.  The court denied the motion, ruling that a mere conclusory assertion that the lawsuit was frivolous is insufficient to bring sanctions.

Facts

Paris and Paris LLP ("Paris") was one of the defendants in a case in which Benjamin Flint (“Flint”) claimed Paris violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The claim was dismissed and Paris moved for sanctions in the form of attorneys' fees against Flint for bringing a lawsuit that was "frivolous and brought recklessly and without either substantial factual or legal support." 

Decision

The court cited 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1692k(a)(3) which, for sanctions, requires "a finding by the court that (plaintiff's FDCPA claim) was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment."  The court noted that Paris did not directly allege that Flint's purpose was to harass, but rather that it was frivolous and brought recklessly.  Paris offered no evidence, other than its conclusory assertion, to support a claim that the lawsuit was brought for the purpose of harassing.  The court found the conclusory assertion alone was inadequate.  Therefore, Paris' motion did not satisfy the legal standard for sanctions and the motion was denied.