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MCLAUGHLIN v. BRADLEE

February 26, 1985

Francis X. McLAUGHLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
Benjamin C. BRADLEE, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

 INTRODUCTION

 Before the Court are plaintiff's three most recent postjudgment motions in this case: (1) his January 29, 1985 "Rule 15(a) Motion to Clarify Complaint by Amendment," (2) his February 7, 1985 Rule 59(e) Motion (Renewed)", and (3) his February 12, 1985 "Rule 54(b) Motion for Entry of Final Judgment Etc." Upon consideration of the motions, the opposition thereto, defendants' requests for sanctions, and the supporting memoranda, the Court for the reasons stated, denies plaintiff's motions, and grants defendants' requests for sanctions.

 BACKGROUND

 The following background information is extremely confusing due to plaintiff's wide-reaching and excessive legal maneuvering. The interrelated nature of McLaughlin's postjudgment motions adds to this confusion.

 On June 11, 1984, plaintiff, a lawyer, filed the complaint in this case. The complaint attacked an alleged conspiracy between certain employees of the Washington Post and the Montgomery County, Maryland, police force, who allegedly conspired to discredit and injure the plaintiff. On December 21, 1984, this Court issued a lengthy Opinion and Order dismissing the four count complaint on the grounds that it was precluded by previous litigation. McLaughlin v. Bradlee, 599 F. Supp. 839 (D.D.C.1984). In that Opinion the Court reviewed the extensive previous litigation, which was entirely initiated by plaintiff. Because of the complexity of plaintiff's previous suits, the Court will not repeat the history of the litigation here. It is sufficient to note that by the time plaintiff's grievances appeared before this Judge, plaintiff had already burdened three separate courts, (exclusive of appellate courts), with substantially the same suit arising out of the same alleged conspiracy. Plaintiff lost in each court.

 After this complaint was filed, all of the defendants moved to dismiss, and for sanctions against plaintiff. The defendants asserted that plaintiff brought this suit in bad faith, knowing that the issues had been fully litigated. Although the Court gave serious consideration to the requests for sanctions, the Court concluded that there was insufficient evidence of plaintiff's bad faith in filing the lawsuit. The Court considered this to be a close question, however, and included the following passage in the conclusion to the Opinion:

 
Today the Court has issued an Order dismissing, with prejudice, each Count presented in this case. Hopefully, this will mark the end of this litigation. If it does not signal the end of plaintiff's litigation on these issues, the Court might later consider the defendants' requests for sanctions.

 599 F. Supp. at 850.

 On December 31, 1984, the plaintiff, apparently undaunted by the Court's warning, filed a motion, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), to vacate the Opinion and Order. On January 28, 1985, after reviewing the motion, defendants' opposition, and plaintiffs' response, the Court issued a three page Order denying the motion.

 Although this case was long ago dismissed, plaintiff has now filed a motion to amend the complaint. In this motion, filed on January 29, 1985, the day after the Court denied plaintiff's first motion to vacate, plaintiff attempts to add a new count to the complaint.

 Plaintiff has now filed a "renewed" motion to reconsider and vacate the Court's Orders of December 21, 1984, and January 28, 1985. In this renewed motion, which was filed on February 7, 1985, as in his previous motion to vacate, (and in his opposition to defendants' motions to dismiss), plaintiff seeks an opportunity to conduct discovery and to hold an evidentiary hearing to demonstrate that he was denied a "full and fair opportunity to litigate" the earlier actions, thus rendering improper the application of the doctrine of res judicata. See Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, Inc. v. University of Illinois Foundation, 402 U.S. 313, 333, 91 S. Ct. 1434, 1445, 28 L. Ed. 2d 788 (1971).

 Plaintiff's final motion (to date) is a "Rule 54(b) Motion for Entry of Final Judgment Etc." In this motion, which was filed on February 12, 1985, plaintiff asks the Court to direct the entry of a final judgment as to its Orders of December 21, 1984 and January 28, 1985. Plaintiff seeks a final judgment only as to the four counts of the original complaint, (which the Court has already adjudicated twice), but not one for his Count V, which he has recently presented to the Court in his motion to amend the complaint. Like his renewed motion to vacate the Court's dismissal and his motion to amend the complaint, the Court will today rule on this motion for entry of final judgment.

 In the face of no fewer than four post-judgment motions by plaintiff, the defendants, to no surprise to the Court, have renewed their requests for sanctions against plaintiff. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11; 28 U.S.C. § 1927. After briefly reviewing plaintiff's latest motions, the Court considers these requests for sanctions.

 BECAUSE PLAINTIFF MOVED TO AMEND HIS COMPLAINT AFTER THE COURT HAD DISMISSED THIS CASE, THE COURT DENIES THE MOTION

 On June 11, 1984 plaintiff filed a four count complaint in this case. Each of the six defendants timely moved to dismiss the complaint. On December 21, 1984, after lengthy deliberation, the Court decided that the complaint must be dismissed because of the preclusive effects of plaintiff's three previous suits. Seven and a half months after filing his complaint, and several months after the defendants moved to dismiss, and indeed more than one month after the Court dismissed this case, plaintiff moved to amend his complaint. In this motion, McLaughlin desires to add a new Count, Count V, which is premised on a denial of plaintiff's "Constitutional Right to Privacy." This Count contains allegations virtually identical to those in Count I of his original complaint.

 Although plaintiff filed this motion one day after the Court had denied his first Motion to Vacate the dismissal, he was apparently unaware of that denial. Plaintiff states that the pendency of his Rule 59(e) motion "stays this court's order granting defendants' Rule 12(b) motions to dismiss the complaint herein," thus allowing plaintiff to exercise his "absolute right to file his amended complaint of January 29, 1985 herein as a 'matter of course' in accordance with the provisions of Rule 15(a) of the F.R.Civ.P." Alternatively, plaintiff requests leave of court to allow him to amend his complaint.

 McLaughlin cites only Reiss v. Richardson, 147 U.S. App. D.C. 219, 455 F.2d 1287, 1289 n.2 (D.C.Cir.1971), for the proposition that because the Court has not yet ruled on his second Motion to Vacate, plaintiff may amend his complaint "as a matter of course". That case states that a party may amend his complaint "as of right . . . until dismissal." Id. This case, however, was dismissed on December 21, 1984, one and a half months before plaintiff filed his motion to amend. By the time plaintiff filed this motion, the Court had even denied one Motion to Vacate. Thus, there can be no doubt that the motion to amend came too late to be filed "as a matter of course". Id. See also Jackson v. ...


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