Accordingly, defendants’ Motion to Tax Attorneys’ Fees and Costs is GRANTED. Plaintiffs Manton and IFOA and their counsel of record, Daniel G. Abel and Richard J. Feldman, are jointly and severally liable to defendants in the amount of $22,382.00 in reasonable attorneys’ fees. Cf. Blanco River, LLC v. Green, 457 F. App’x 431, 434, 438-39 (5th Cir. 2012 (affirming district court’s imposition of sanctions jointly and severally on defendant and defendant’s counsel because defendant had acted in bad faith and counsel had unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied the proceedings). ~ United States District Court Judge Sarah Vance
Press release / St Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain’s Blog
Sheriff’s Office Recoups Taxpayer Funds Spent Defending Frivolous Lawsuits
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office was recently awarded $22,382 in legal fees spent defending a frivolous lawsuit in federal court.
The case, brought before the United States District Court by Sherry Manton and her attorney, Daniel Abel, was essentially a rehashing of an earlier lawsuit against the Sheriff’s office by her husband, Norman Manton. (Note: several media reports related to the particulars of these cases have been published both locally and nationally – see Human Events magazine).
Both cases were dismissed by summary judgment due to the Court’s view that, in the first case, there was insufficient evidence to support any of Manton’s claims and, in the second, not only did Manton fail to establish a case on any of her claims, but also that the doctrine of res judicata applied. (The intent of res judicata is to prevent matters already litigated from being re-litigated).
In the second case, the Court also held that the plaintiffs “vexatiously multiplied the proceedings.” This standard requires “clear and convincing evidence that every facet of the litigation was patently meritless and evidence of bad faith, improper motive, or reckless disregard of the duty owed to the court.”
As a result of these findings, Judge Sarah Vance yesterday issued a ruling in favor of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and against the plaintiffs and their counsel, Daniel Abel and Richard J. Feldman.
“We are very pleased that the Sheriff’s office was able to recoup the tax payers’ money that was required to defend this frivolous lawsuit,” said Chief Deputy Brian Trainor.
Sheriff Jack Strain assured the residents of St. Tammany that he will do everything possible to prevent their tax dollars from being wasted on these types of court actions. “The Sheriff’s office cannot prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits against our deputies. What we can control is how we respond as an agency to such filings. When our deputies are right, we will stand behind them through the entire process,” Strain said.