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Nick v. Morgan Foods, Inc.

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Brief Fact Summary.

The district imposed sanctions on Defendant for failing to comply with Alternate Dispute Resolution orders and procedures, and in connection with Defendant’s motion for reconsideration of the order imposing the sanctions. The sanctions were calculated to cover Plaintiff’s costs and attorneys’ fees; additional sanctions payable to the court were also imposed. Defendant appealed the sanctions imposed that were payable to the court.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(f) authorizes a judge to impose a sanction in addition to, or in lieu of, reasonable expenses.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

It is of no consequence when the abuses are perpetrated by counsel, rather than the client.

View Full Point of Law

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendant, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. The parties consented to Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). The first ADR conference was postponed at Defendant’s request; after the conference took place, the mediator informed the district court of defendant’s “minimal participation” in the mediation. The court issued an order to show cause to Defendant for why sanctions should not be imposed, and Plaintiff also moved for sanctions. The district imposed sanctions based on its finding that Defendant failed to act in good faith in the ADR proceeding. The sanctions were ordered to be paid to Plaintiff for its costs and attorneys’ fees; additional sanctions were payable to the court. Sanctions were also imposed, payable to the court, after Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration of the court’s sanctions order. Defendant appealed the sanctions order, to the extent of the sanctions were payable to the court.


Did the district court abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions?


No. The district court did not err in imposing sanctions on Defendant.


The district judge acted within his discretion by imposing a fine payable to the court clerk. The district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions against Defendant for lack of good faith in complying with the ADR procedures and related court orders, or for its filing of a frivolous motion for reconsideration of the sanctions orders.

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