United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
ANDREW L. SCHLAFLY, Plaintiff,
EAGLE FORUM, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Eagle Forum's motion for
attorney's fees (Docs. 45 and 46).
Plaintiff Andrew Schlafly (“Schlafly”) opposes
the motion (Docs. 49, 53, and 61). The matter is fully
briefed and ready for disposition. For the reasons set forth
below, Eagle Forum's motion will be granted in part.
filed this action on January 19, 2017, seeking, among other
things, a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction centering on a board meeting scheduled to be held
on January 28, 2017 (“January meeting”). Schlafly
contends that he was improperly removed at the January
meeting and asserts that, as a result, he was irreparably
harmed. Although Schlafly initially sought a temporary
restraining order from this Court enjoining the individual
Defendants from holding the January meeting, Schlafly agreed
to cancel the hearing because an identical motion had been
filed and was set for a hearing before the Madison County
Court in Illinois, which was handling related litigation
between the parties.
September 7, 2017, the Court ruled on a number of pending
motions, including Defendant Eagle Forum's motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, transfer. (See Doc.
31). Four days later, Schlafly filed a second motion for
emergency temporary restraining order, seeking a Court order
preventing the Eagle Forum Board from proceeding with a
meeting scheduled to take place on September 15, 2017. (Doc.
33). Due to the imminent nature of the meeting sought to be
enjoined, the Court set the matter for a hearing on September
14, 2017. (Doc. 34).
appeared at the hearing in person and was accompanied by his
brother, John Schlafly, who, it was represented to the Court,
was acting as a paralegal. (Tr. 1). Defendant Eagle Forum
appeared through counsel. After oral argument, the Court
denied Schlafly's second motion for temporary restraining
order. The Court found that Schlafly was unlikely to succeed
on the merits; that Plaintiff would not suffer irreparable
harm if the September 15 meeting were to proceed because the
harm occurred at a previous January meeting; that the balance
of harms favored Defendant Eagle Forum; and that the element
of public interest did not favor either party. (Tr. 32-34).
Court took judicial notice of the history of litigation
between the individuals and entities related to or affiliated
with Phyllis Schlafly. (Tr. 15-16). Upon review of the pattern of
litigation, the Court was concerned about Schlafly's
previous conduct filing identical motions for temporary
restraining order in St. Louis County Circuit Court and
Madison County court. (Tr. 21). The Court opined it could come
to no conclusion other than that the instant motion for
temporary restraining order was designed to harass Defendant
Eagle Forum and contribute to an effort to tie up its present
directors in various lawsuits. (Tr. 35). As a result, the Court granted
Defendant Eagle Forum's request for attorney's fees
and costs and directed it to submit its fees and costs for
review by the Court. (Tr. 35-36). The Court also permitted
Schlafly to submit any objections. (Tr. 36).
September 25, 2017, Defendant Eagle Forum filed its motion
for attorney's fees and accompanying motion to file its
billing statement as an ex parte attachment, which it
contends contains privileged attorney-client information and
litigation strategies protected under the work product
doctrine. (Doc. 50). Schlafly filed objections to both
November 30, 2017, the Court denied without prejudice
Defendant Eagle Forum's motion to file its billing
statement as an ex parte attachment and directed it to either
file an unredacted copy of its billing statement, or a
redacted billing statement attached to a motion and
memorandum in support. (Doc. 59). Defendant Eagle Forum
timely complied and submitted an unredacted billing
statement. (Doc. 60). Plaintiff then filed his renewed
opposition to the motion for attorney's fees. (Doc. 61).
He argued that the request for attorney's fees was
deficient because it was submitted without an affidavit in
support; there was no evidence concerning the reasonableness
of billing rates; and that the billing entries had a number
of errors, contradictions, and duplications. Eagle Forum
filed a reply in opposition. (Doc. 62).
have a number of implied powers necessary to manage their own
affairs and achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition
of cases. Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43
(1991). These inherent powers include the imposition of
sanctions when a party has acted in bad faith, vexatiously,
wantonly, or for oppressive reasons. Alyeska Pipeline
Serv. Co. v. Wilderness Soc'y, 421 U.S. 240, 258-59
(1975); see also Young v. U.S. ex rel. Vuitton et Fils
S.A., 481 U.S. 787, 796 (1987) (“The ability to
punish disobedience to judicial orders is regarded as
essential to ensuring that the Judiciary has a means to
vindicate its own authority without complete dependence on
other Branches.”). Like all applications of inherent
power, the authority to sanction bad-faith litigation
practices can be exercised only when necessary to preserve
the authority of the court. Chambers, 501 U.S. at
permissible sanction is an assessment of attorney's fees
whereby the court instructs a party that has acted in bad
faith to reimburse legal fees and costs incurred by the other
side. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, 137
S.Ct. 1178, 1186 (2017). The Supreme Court has made clear
that a fee award may go no further than to redress the
wronged party “for losses sustained”; it may not
impose an additional amount as punishment for the sanctioned
party's misbehavior. Id. In other words, the
Court can shift only those attorney's fees incurred
because of the misconduct at issue. Id.
the Court identified specific instances of Schlafly's
misconduct, the most recent of which was filing a second
motion for temporary restraining order in what appeared to
the Court to be a blatant effort to tie up the resources of
Defendant Eagle Forum. Schlafly's assertion that he was
not a named party to the Madison County lawsuit and, as a
result, could not be responsible for the identical motion
filed in that case is unpersuasive, particularly in light of
the fact that his brother, who attended the hearing, is a key
defendant in that litigation.
it was clear to the Court that in his second motion for
temporary restraining order, Schlafly was merely trying to
relitigate issues set forth in his first motion for temporary
restraining order. This is evidenced by Schlafly's
repeated references to events that took place at the January
meeting and his ...