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Tso v. Murray
United States District Court, D. Colorado
July 19, 2018
GILBERT T. TSO, Plaintiff,
REBECCA MURRAY, a/k/a Tso, TANYA AKINS, SHERR PUTTMANN AKINS LAMB PC, JEANNIE RIDINGS, KILILIS RIDINGS & VANAU PC, RUSSELL MURRAY, DENA MURRAY, JOANNE JENSEN, RICHARD F. SPIEGLE, ELIZABETH A. STARRS, DAVID P. BRODSKY, CHARLES D. JOHNSON, ROSS B.H. BUCHANAN, DAVID H. GOLDBERG, MONICA JACKSON, individual and official capacity, LARA DELKA, individual and official capacity, CHRISTIAN MADDY, individual and official capacity, JENNIFER ADELMANN, individual and official capacity, DON MARES, official capacity, BARRY PARDUS, official capacity, MICHAEL DIXON, official capacity, CYNTHIA COFFMAN, official capacity, 19TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT, LAKE CO., IL, 2ND DISTRICT COURT, DENVER COUNTY, CO, DENVER DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, and COLORADO DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, Defendants.
T. Varholak United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Complaint re:
ECF #103 Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(1), (b)(3) and (b)(4)
and Motion for Sanctions (the “Motion”) [#151],
which was referred to this Court [#152]. Through the Motion,
Plaintiff seeks Rule 11 sanctions against Defendants City and
County of Denver, Denver Department of Human Services, Monica
Jackson, Lara Delka, Christian Maddy, Jennifer Adelmann, and
Don Mares (collectively, “Denver Defendants”) and
their attorney Robert A. Wolf based upon arguments raised in
Denver Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (the “Motion
to Dismiss”) [#103]. The Motion also argues that a
motion for extension of time filed on behalf of Denver
Defendants and Colorado Defendants (the “Motion for
Extension of Time”) [#130] was frivolous and vexatious
and thus violated Rule 11(b)(1). This Court has carefully
considered the Motion, the entire case file, the applicable
case law, and has determined that neither additional briefing
nor oral argument would materially assist in the disposition
of the instant Motion. For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES the Motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b) provides:
By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or
other paper--whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later
advocating it-an attorney or unrepresented party certifies
that to the best of the person's knowledge, information,
and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such
as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase
the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are
warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for
extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for
establishing new law;
(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if
specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary
support after a reasonable opportunity for further
investigation or discovery; and (4) the denials of factual
contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically
so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of
Court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated,
“the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any
attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is
responsible for the violation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(1).
“In deciding whether to impose Rule 11 sanctions, a
district court must apply an objective standard; it must
determine whether a reasonable and competent attorney would
believe in the merit of an argument.” Dodd Ins.
Servs., Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co. of Am., 935 F.2d 1152,
1155 (10th Cir. 1991). “Rule 11 sanctions are an
extraordinary remedy . . . intended to discourage frivolous
litigation, not to punish litigants.” Greeley Pub.
Co. v. Hergert, 233 F.R.D. 607, 611 (D. Colo. 2006).
Motion asserts the following alleged violations of Rule 11:
(1) Denver Defendants' assertion of a “domestic
relations exception defense” in their Motion to Dismiss
is frivolous and vexatious and thus violates Rule 11(b)(1);
(2) Denver Defendants' assertion of res judicata in their
Motion to Dismiss is frivolous and vexatious and thus
violates Rule 11(b)(1); (3) the motion for extension of time
filed by Denver Defendants and Colorado Defendants was
vexatious and thus violated Rule 11(b)(1); and (4) statements
in Denver Defendants' Motion to Dismiss purportedly
“characterizing [ ] Plaintiff as a ‘deadbeat'
refusing to support his minor child” are patently false
and violate Rule 11(b)(3) and 11(b)(4). The Court addresses
each argument in turn.
Denver Defendants' Assertion of the Domestic Relations
their Motion to Dismiss, Denver Defendants argue that the
Court “should not exercise jurisdiction over the purely
state issue [raised by Plaintiff's complaint involving]
whether Plaintiff owes and should pay child support, ”
because Federal Courts “lack subject matter
jurisdiction over all domestic relations matters.”
[#103 at 6 (citing In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586,
593-94 (1890))] Plaintiff contends that this argument is
frivolous and vexatious, because Denver Defendants raised
this same argument in a related case Plaintiff filed against
Denver Defendants, Tso v. Murray, No.
16-cv-02480-WJM- STV, (the “16-2480 Action”) and
“the issue of the ‘domestic relations
exception' had virtually no weight or affect whatsoever
on the ruling and judgment” of dismissal in that case.
[#151 at 8] Plaintiff contends that Denver Defendants'
domestic relations exception argument thus is “issue
precluded.” [Id. at 9] Plaintiff, however,
fails to provide any citation to, or discussion of, the
Court's purported consideration of the applicability of
the domestic relations exception in the 16-2480 Action. Based
upon this Court's review of the order of dismissal in the
16-2480 Action, it appears that the Court there did not
directly address the domestic relations exception or the
authority related thereto cited in the Motion to Dismiss
filed in this action. Nor has Plaintiff cited any other
authority establishing that Denver Defendants' invocation
of the domestic relations exception is patently frivolous.
the Motion is DENIED to the extent it seeks the imposition of
sanctions based upon Denver Defendants' assertion of the
domestic relations exception to the ...