United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
VINCENT DOMÍNGUEZ-SCHUGT, MARIO DOMÍNGUEZ-BURGUETTE, ROSWITHA DOMÍNGUEZ, STEPHAN DOMÍNGUEZ, and SULI DOMÍNGUEZ, Plaintiffs,
STATE OF WISCONSIN, COUNTY OF DUNN, TOWN OF WESTON, BARRETT BRENNER, ERIC KLEVEN, NICHOLAS P. LANGE, BRENT D. SKINNER, CINDY WANG, JENNIFER A. STEINMEYER, JENNY NYHUS, MEGAN MITTLESTADT, DORIS MEYER, CINDY KOPP, CALVIN CHRISTIANSON, DENNIS P. SMITH, JULIE A. WATHKE, and BRAD D. SCHIMEL, Defendants.
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
members Vincent DomÃnguez-Schugt, Mario DomÃnguez-Burguette,
Roswitha DomÃnguez, Stephan DomÃnguez, and Suli DomÃnguez
jointly brought this lawsuit in which they alleged that
defendants harmed them in a variety of ways, in particular
alleging that defendant government officials failed to
recognize unregistered transfers of real estate between the
plaintiffs. I granted defendants' motions to dismiss the
case because plaintiffs had no plausible federal claims for
relief, and I declined to exercise jurisdiction over any of
plaintiffs' state-law claims. Dkt. 49. Judgment was
entered February 21, 2019. Dkt. 50.
have filed a letter in which they object to the form of the
judgment. Dkt. 53. They contend that it is invalid because it
contains an electronic “” signature from the
clerk of court, see Dkt. 50, and they ask for a
handwritten signed version. But the federal rules and this
court's procedures allow for electronic signatures by
both parties and the court. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
5(d)(3) (“A court may, by local rule, allow papers to
be filed, signed or verified by electronic means that are
consistent with any technical standards established by the
Judicial Conference of the United States.”); W.D. Wis.
Local R. 5 (requiring electronic filing of papers); W.D. Wis.
Admin. Procedure V.A (“Any order filed electronically
has the same force and effect as a paper order with a
handwritten signature.”). So the current judgment is
valid. I will deny plaintiffs' motion.
order dismissing the case, I granted the county
defendants' motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11. Dkt. 49. I directed those defendants to
submit an itemized accounting of its reasonable expenses and
I gave plaintiffs a chance to object.
county defendants submitted billing invoices for attorney
fees totaling $12, 030- 80.2 hours of work at $150 an hour.
Dkt. 51-1. Plaintiffs did not file an objection or suggest
that they are unable to pay a sanction award. The county
defendants responded to the lack of objection by filing a
motion asking the court to enter a sanctions order for the
full amount. Dkt. 54.
$150 hourly rate is reasonable, but I cannot accept all of
the entries in defendants' billing record. Several
entries are partially redacted, including all of the entries
from the December 2018 record, when briefing had already been
completed and the case was under advisement to the court,
making it unclear what defendants would have been working on
at that point. I'll strike the redacted entries, leaving
the total bill at $11, 280.
plaintiffs' relatively voluminous, albeit frivolous,
filings, the remaining fee amount is not obviously
unreasonable as a calculation of counsel's efforts in
this case. Nonetheless, defendants are not automatically
entitled to the full amount of attorney fees. Under Rule
11(c)(4), a sanction “must be limited to what suffices
to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by
others similarly situated, ” and I can direct
plaintiffs to pay defendants all of the attorney fees or part
of them. “A Rule 11 sanction is not meant to
reimburse opposing parties for their costs of defense.”
Anderson v. Cnty. of Montgomery, 111 F.3d 494, 502
(7th Cir. 1997) (emphasis in original), overruled on
other grounds by DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th
Cir. 2000); see also Johnson v. A.W. Chesterton Co.,
18 F.3d 1362, 1366 (7th Cir. 1994). There's no reason to
think that the full amount of fees here is necessary to deter
this group of pro se filers from filing frivolous lawsuits in
the future; this court's electronic records do not show
any previous filings-frivolous or not-from plaintiffs.
See Rule 11, Advisory Committee's Notes (1993
Amendments) (noting that “in deciding whether to impose
a sanction or what sanctions would be appropriate, ”
factors to consider include whether conduct “was part
of a pattern of activity” or “whether the person
has engaged in similar conduct in other litigation”).
deter plaintiffs from engaging in further frivolous
litigation, I will order sanctions in the amount of $4,
000-roughly a third of the county defendants' fees and
ten times the filing fee already paid by plaintiffs. Should
plaintiffs follow up with further frivolous cases, they may
face more substantial sanctions.
Plaintiffs' motion for a new judgment with handwritten
signature, Dkt. 53, is DENIED.
county defendants' motion to enter a sanctions order,
Dkt. 54, is GRANTED. Those defendants are awarded $4, 000