United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. Sullivan United States District Judge.
before the Court is Paragon Systems, Inc.'s
(“Paragon”) motion for attorney's fees. Upon
consideration of the parties' memoranda, the applicable
law, and the entire record, the Court GRANTS in PART
and DENIES in PART Paragon's motion.
history of this litigation makes clear that Mr. Johnson's
lawsuit against Paragon was meritless, and that his
counsel's conduct wasted Paragon's time and resources
as well as those of this Court.
Johnson, represented by Kevin J. McCants, initiated this
action against Paragon in October 2015. See Compl.,
ECF No. 1. On February 1, 2016, Paragon filed a partial
motion to dismiss. ECF No. 6. When no opposition to that
motion was filed, the Court issued an Order directing Mr.
Johnson to respond to Paragon's motion by no later than
March 31, 2016. See Minute Order of Mar. 17, 2016.
Mr. Johnson failed to comply with that deadline but did file
a two-page opposition on April 1, 2016. See
Pl.'s Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 7. The Court
subsequently granted Paragon's motion, dismissing Mr.
Johnson's claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress after concluding that Mr. Johnson had failed to
sufficiently allege that his injury resulted from
“extreme and outrageous conduct.” See Johnson
v. Paragon Sys., Inc., 195 F.Supp.3d 96 (D.D.C. 2016).
conducting discovery, Paragon moved for summary judgment on
its remaining claims on the ground that Mr. Johnson had
“mistakenly and improperly included Paragon as a
party-defendant in this litigation.” See
Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 18-1
at 7. When no opposition to that motion was filed, the Court
directed Mr. Johnson to file his opposition by no later than
March 23, 2017. See Minute Order of Mar. 9, 2017.
Despite the Court's Order, Mr. Johnson never filed an
Court entered judgement in Paragon's favor on the merits
on September 27, 2017. See Johnson v. Paragon Sys.,
Inc., 272 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.D.C. 2017). In so doing, the
Court noted that, on the record before the Court, it appeared
that the lawsuit against Paragon was “ill-conceived and
a waste of this Court's time and resources.”
Id. at 5. Accordingly, the Court ordered Mr. Johnson
and his counsel, Mr. McCants, to show cause why
sanctions, including significant monetary sanctions, should
not be imposed against them both pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11(b) and why Mr. McCants should not be
referred to the Committee on Grievances of the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia for any
investigation or proceedings that the Committee may deem
next day, Mr. McCants, on behalf of himself and his client,
filed a cursory five-sentence response to that Order.
See Pl.'s Resp. to Order of the Court, ECF No.
26. Mr. McCants stated that Paragon was “sued in
good-faith” and that he “didn't know”
that Paragon was not involved in the underlying incident
leading to Mr. Johnson's alleged injuries “until
the depositions.” Id. at 1. Mr. Johnson
further stated that “[w]hen it became clear that
Paragon was not the liable party, ” Mr. McCants thought
Mr. Johnson “was being responsible” by informing
Paragon's attorney that he “would not oppose
[Paragon's] motion for summary judgment.”
remaining defendants timely filed their motions to dismiss, ECF
Nos. 22 and 23, and, again, Mr. Johnson failed to file an
opposition to these motions until the Court ordered him to do
so, see Minute Order of Oct. 6, 2017. Although Mr.
Johnson complied with the Court's Order, his response was
cursory at best. See, e.g., Pl.'s Opp. to Mot.
to Dismiss, ECF No. 29 (a three-page memorandum with a
six-sentence “argument” section). Thereafter, the
Court dismissed the remaining defendants on March 29, 2018.
See Order, ECF No. 35.
after dismissing the remaining defendants in this litigation,
see Johnson v. Paragon Sys., Inc., No.
15-1851, 2018 WL 1542134 (Mar. 29, 2018), the Court directed
Paragon to file its motion for attorney's fees,
see Minute Order of April 3, 2018. Mr. Johnson was
directed to file his response to Paragon's motion by no
later than April 27, 2018; in keeping with his pattern of
dilatory conduct in this case, Mr. Johnson's counsel
failed to file a timely opposition. Four days after the
deadline for an opposition had passed, Mr. Johnson requested
additional time to respond to Paragon's fee petition,
see Emergency Mot. for Extension of Time, ECF No.
38, which the Court reluctantly granted, see Minute
Order of May 2, 2018. Mr. Johnson filed his response on May
4, 2018, see Pl.'s Opp. to Fee Shifting, ECF No.
39, asserting that a fee award is not warranted or, in the
alternative, that fees should be limited to expenses incurred
after the date of Mr. Johnson's deposition. See
Court agrees that Paragon is entitled to attorney's fees,
however Paragon's requested fee must be reduced to only
expenses incurred following Mr. Johnson's deposition.
“Federal courts possess certain ‘inherent
powers,' not conferred by rule or statute, ‘to
manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and
expeditious disposition of cases.'” Goodyear
Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, 137 S.Ct. 1178, 1186
(2017) (quoting Link v. Wabash R. Co., 370 U.S. 626,
630-631 (1962)). Those powers include “the ability to
fashion an appropriate sanction for conduct which abuses the
judicial process.” Chambers v. NASCO, Inc.,
501 U.S. 32, 44-45 (1991). Accordingly, a court may issue
“contempt citations, fines, awards of attorneys'
fees, and such other orders and sanctions” when
necessary to reimburse a party for frivolous litigation
conducted against it. Parsi v. Daioleslam, 778 F.3d
116, 130 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). Generally, “a finding of bad faith
is required for an award of attorney's fees under the
court's inherent power.” Id. at 131.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, the
Supreme Court held that a fees award issued pursuant to a
court's inherent authority to sanction a litigant for
bad-faith conduct must be “limited to the fees the
innocent party incurred solely because of the
misconduct.” 137 S.Ct. at 1184. In other words, there
must be a “causal link” between “the
litigant's misbehavior and legal fees paid by the
opposing party.” Id. at 1186. Accordingly,
before awarding fees, a court must “determine whether a
given legal fee - ...