The complaint at issue here differs in no material respect from those filed in the earlier-dismissed actions. The facts herein alleged are particularly similar to those raised in Sparrow v. Weinberger, Civil Action No. 83-2219. In that action, plaintiff asserted that the Department of the Navy had engaged in a tortious conspiracy to interfere with plaintiff's civil rights and deny him employment. Plaintiff also alleged that the Department of the Navy had breached the 1982 Settlement Agreement. On March 27, 1984, Judge Joyce Hens Green of this Court dismissed plaintiff's complaint as groundless. Civil Action No. 83-2219 (unpublished opinion).
Plaintiff thereupon brought a new action, identical, save for selected verbal twists and addition of at least one new defendant, to that dismissed by Judge Green. On April 10, 1985, Judge John Garrett Penn of this Court dismissed plaintiff's complaint as res judicata. Sparrow v. Devine, et al., Civil Action 84-3364.
Principles of res judicata govern the instant case as well. That doctrine prevents relitigation when "the same issue arises in one case and has been decided in another." C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure : Jurisdiction § 4407 (1981); see, Brown v. Felsen, 442 U.S. 127, 131, 60 L. Ed. 2d 767, 99 S. Ct. 2205 (1979); Page v. United States, 234 U.S. App. D.C. 332, 729 F.2d 818, 820 (D.C. Cir. 1984).
The Court knows no more fitting description of plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff's claims in the instant suit arise out of the same nucleus of operative fact as the claims rejected in Sparrow v. Weinberger, Sparrow v. Devine, and, indeed, the plethora of plaintiff's suits that this Court has dismissed without opinion. As such, the doctrine of res judicata bars plaintiff's attempt to resurrect his unsuccessful claims.
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ADD DEFENDANTS IS MOOT AND MUST BE DISMISSED.
Plaintiff has moved to add as defendants Assistant United States Attorney Robert Eaton, Department of the Navy Personnel Staffing Specialist Rhonda M. Ford, and Navy Personnel Officer John LaRaia. Today's dismissal of plaintiff's case renders this motion moot, and the Court must dismiss it.
PLAINTIFF'S HISTORY OF VEXATIOUS LITIGATION WARRANTS IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS.
Defendants have moved for Rule 11 sanctions against plaintiff, including an injunction limiting plaintiff's future access to federal courts. The Court finds that restricting plaintiff's unfettered access to the federal courts, which the Court considers only after the most careful regard for a litigant's fundamental right to judicial redress of legitimate grievances, is the necessary and proper remedy against plaintiff's unabashed abuse of the judicial process.
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
The signature of an attorney or party [on a pleading, motion or paper] constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion, or paper, that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well-grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. . . . If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court . . . shall impose upon the person who signed it . . . an appropriate sanction . . . (emphasis added).
If a pleading violates this Rule, the Court is required to impose sanctions. Westmoreland v. CBS, Inc., 248 U.S. App. D.C. 255, 770 F.2d 1168, 1174-75 (D.C. Cir. 1985). This obligation applies whether plaintiff is represented by counsel or, as here, brings his action pro se. DeNardo v. Murphy, 781 F.2d 1345 (9th Cir. 1986) (sanctions imposed on pro se plaintiff); McLaughlin v. Bradlee, 602 F. Supp. 1412 (D.D.C. 1985) (same). When sanctions are warranted, the Court may mandate payment of reasonable attorney's fees or such other penalties as the Court deems appropriate. Advisory Committee on Rules, Notes to 1983 Amendment of Rule 11, reprinted in 1986 Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules 34-35.
Plaintiff's continual attempts to relitigate his unsuccessful claims are highly disruptive. Plaintiff may believe that a new judge will overlook the readily apparent similarity of each new complaint to its predecessors. Alternatively, he may think that a judge will ignore the unanimous dismissals that have greeted plaintiff's actions and reject the sound notions on which those dismissals were based. Either theory would be incorrect. Instead, plaintiff's litigiousness forces the conclusion that he resorts to legal process regardless of the legitimacy of his claims and hoping that federal officials will yield to his demands out of sheer exhaustion.
That plaintiff cannot escape rebuke has been made clear to him. In a case dismissed over a year ago, Judge Penn of this Court informed plaintiff that his action was "frivolous" and that defendants ". . . made out a strong case for an order restricting plaintiff's future access to this court." Sparrow v. Devine, at 7. Only because plaintiff's appeals were then pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit did Judge Penn stay his hand and deny the request for sanctions. Id. at 8. In its summary dismissals of those appeals, the Court of Appeals admonished plaintiff that any further attempt to litigate his meritless claims could result in sanctions. Sparrow v. Devine, No. 85-5688 (per curiam) (unpublished opinion).
Plaintiff can no longer escape penalty for wasting resources that could have been devoted to rendering justice. In view of plaintiff's continued refusal to accept the judgment of the Court and his decision to file the instant complaint, the case for limiting plaintiff's access to this court is even stronger than a year ago. He has ignored strongly worded warnings too often to satisfy this Court that he will respect yet another.
Access to the courts is a fundamental tenet of our judicial system, and litigiousness alone is no reason to enjoin future litigation. DeNardo v. Murphy, 781 F.2d at 1348; In re Oliver, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (3rd Cir. 1982). But "a continuous pattern of groundless and vexatious litigation can, at some point, support an order against further filings of complaints without the permission of the court." Id.; In re Green, 215 U.S. App. D.C. 393, 669 F.2d 779 (D.C. Cir. 1981). After filing eighteen complaints alleging the same groundless cause of action, plaintiff has passed that point. See, e.g., In re Martin-Trigona, 737 F.2d 1254, 1262 (2d Cir. 1984) (all that is required to support injunction limiting access to federal courts is history of vexatious litigation); Meredith v. John Deere Plow Co., 261 F.2d 121, 122 (four repetitious complaints justified injunction); McLaughlin, 602 F. Supp. at 1419-20 (four frivolous post-judgment motions justified injunction).
The Court notes that plaintiff, usually so zealous in asserting his rights, has not objected to this motion. He has neither contested the reasonableness of the injunction sought nor asked for a hearing at which to contest the propriety of an injunction in this case. Whatever his reason, plaintiff has waived any due process objections he might have raised to defendants' motion. See, Miranda v. Southern Pacific Transportation Corp., 710 F.2d 516, 522 (9th Cir. 1983) (failure to request hearing on sanctions waives any due process right to hearing); Schwarzer, Sanctions Under the New Federal Rule 11 -- A Closer Look, 104 F.R.D. 181, 197-99 (1985) (hearing not a due process requirement when party notified that Rule 11 sanctions would be sought).
Due process forbids, and this Court does not contemplate, altogether barring plaintiff from the federal courts. See In re Green, 669 F.2d at 787 n.21. Instead, the Court today orders that plaintiff seek judicial permission before filing any new civil action with this Court. In seeking leave of the Court, plaintiff must certify that he raises claims that he has never before raised and that no federal court has decided on the merits. If plaintiff fails to so certify, or should he falsely so certify, he may be found in contempt of court and punished accordingly.
In sum, this Court believes that every litigant deserves his day in court. But it also believes that plaintiff has abused that fundamental guarantee. To allow plaintiff unfettered access to the judicial system would no longer be consonant with the principles of justice. As such, the Court will grant defendants' motion for imposition of sanctions against plaintiff Cleveland Sparrow.
The Court finds that plaintiff's complaint is res judicata and that plaintiff's history of vexatious litigation warrants limiting plaintiff's access to the federal courts. The Court finds no basis for striking pleadings filed by attorney Robert Eaton. Accordingly, in an Order of even date herewith, the Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss the instant case and defendants' motion for imposing sanctions against plaintiff. The Court will deny plaintiff's motions to strike the Eaton pleadings and for summary judgment. The Court will also dismiss plaintiff's motion to join new defendants as moot.
CHARLES R. RICHEY, United States District Judge.
In accordance with the Opinion issued in the above-captioned case of even date herewith, and for the reasons set forth therein, it is, by the Court, this 16 day of September, 1986,
ORDERED that the recommendations of United States Magistrate Patrick Attridge, issued in this case on the 19th of February, 1986, shall be and hereby are adopted; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment shall be and hereby is denied; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to strike all pleadings filed by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Eaton shall be and hereby is denied; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action on which this Court may grant relief shall be and hereby is granted; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to add as additional defendants to the above-captioned action Robert Eaton, Rhonda M. Ford, and John LaRaia shall be and hereby is dismissed as moot; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall seek leave of this Court before filing any new civil action; that he shall certify that any such complaint raises new matters never before decided on the merits by any federal court; and that he so certifies truthfully on pain of penalty of contempt of this Court.
CHARLES R. RICHEY, United States District Judge.