437 F.3d 140 (1st Cir. 2006), 05-1679, Roger Edwards, LLC v. Fiddes & Son Ltd.

Docket Nº:05-1679.
Citation:437 F.3d 140
Party Name:ROGER EDWARDS, LLC, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. FIDDES & SON LTD., Defendant, Appellee.
Case Date:February 08, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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Page 140

437 F.3d 140 (1st Cir. 2006)

ROGER EDWARDS, LLC, Plaintiff, Appellant,

v.

FIDDES & SON LTD., Defendant, Appellee.

No. 05-1679.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

February 8, 2006

Submitted Jan. 19, 2006.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE, Hon. David M. Cohen, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Page 141

Thomas F. Hallett and Thomas F. Hallett Law Offices, P.A on brief for appellant.

Ronald W. Schneider, Jr., David A. Soley and Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson on brief for appellee.

Ronald W. Schneider, Jr., David A. Soley and Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson on Appellee's Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to F.R.A.P. 38 with Incorporated Memorandum of Law in No. 05-1306.

Before Boudin, Chief Judge, Selya, Circuit Judge, Siler, [*] Senior Circuit Judge.

BOUDIN, Chief Judge.

Appellant Roger Edwards, LLC ("Roger Edwards"), a Maine limited liability company, seeks reversal of Rule 11 sanctions, Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, imposed on it and its counsel by the magistrate judge who tried the underlying case with the consent of the parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (c) (1) (2000) . This is the third appeal filed in this case by Roger Edwards.1 This decision also resolves a motion by appellee Fiddes & Son, Ltd. ("Fiddes") requesting appellate sanctions under Fed. R. App. P. 38, on the ground that Roger Edwards' second appeal--No. 05-1306, appealing the denial of Rule 60 (b) relief--was frivolous.

Our prior two opinions, cited in the margin, chronicle the long history of this commercial litigation. See Roger Edwards I, 387 F.3d at 92-94; Roger Edwards II, 427 F.3d at 131-32. After unfavorable partial summary judgments followed by an adverse jury verdict in July 2003, Roger Edwards filed its first appeal from the original "merits" judgment, which denied its claims against Fiddes and awarded Fiddes damages on a counterclaim. While that appeal was pending, Roger Edwards in July 2004 filed a Rule 60 (b) motion, Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), for relief from judgment,

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alleging fraudulent conduct by Fiddes, including "fraud on the court."

Fiddes not only opposed the motion but filed a motion for Rule 11 sanctions against Roger Edwards for having filed a frivolous Rule 60 (b) motion. Thereafter, we resolved Roger Edwards' first appeal by affirming the merits judgment. Roger Edwards I, 387 F.3d at 97. The magistrate judge then took up Roger Edwards' pending Rule 60(b) motion, and denied it on January 26, 2005. He initially urged the parties to settle the sanctions issue, but this effort was unsuccessful.

Thereafter, on February 16, 2005, the magistrate judge issued an opinion and order granting Fiddes' motion for Rule 11 sanctions. Following a substantial discussion, the magistrate judge ruled that "the filing of the [Rule 60(b)] motion was, under the circumstances, frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation, even though it may not have been made in subjective bad faith." Roger Edwards and its attorney were ordered to pay Fiddes "reasonable attorney fees and other expenses incurred" in opposing the Rule 60 (b) motion.

The next day, Roger Edwards filed an appeal to this court from the denial of its Rule 60 (b) motion. Roger Edwards also filed a Rule 59 (e) motion for reconsideration of the sanctions award, which was thereafter denied by the magistrate judge, who said that the motion for reconsideration "either rehashes arguments previously advanced and which I have carefully considered or advances new arguments not made either at the summary judgment stage or in support of its Rule 60 (b) motion and which are therefore procedurally defaulted."

Roger Edwards then initiated a third appeal--the one now before us, No. 05-1679--to challenge the Rule 11 sanctions. Fiddes in turn filed a motion for appellate sanctions under Fed. R. App. P. 38 in connection with Roger Edwards' earlier appeal of the denial of Rule 60 (b) relief, No. 05-1306. On October 31, 2005, we affirmed the magistrate judge's denial of Rule 60(b) relief, see...

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