Blue v. U.S. Dept. of Army, Nos. 88-1364

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore ERVIN, Chief Judge, and PHILLIPS and WILKINSON; WILKINSON
Citation914 F.2d 525
Parties54 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,260, 17 Fed.R.Serv.3d 737 Sandra L. BLUE, Plaintiff-Appellant, and Mattiebelle C. Harris, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R. Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker, Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B. McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon, Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army, Defendants-Appellees. Beulah Mae HARRIS, Plaintiff-Appellant, and Mattiebelle C. Harris, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R. Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Leonetta Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker, Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B. McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon, Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin, Sandra L. Blue, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army, Defendants-Appellees. In re FERGUSON, STEIN, WATT, WALLAS & ADKINS, P.A., Appellant. Mattiebelle C. HARRIS, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R. Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker, Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine Ballew, Robert Bron
Docket NumberNos. 88-1364,88-1376
Decision Date12 October 1990

Page 525

914 F.2d 525
54 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,260, 17 Fed.R.Serv.3d 737
Sandra L. BLUE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
and
Mattiebelle C. Harris, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R.
Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta
Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel
Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker,
Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine
Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B.
McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola
McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon,
Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet
Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy
McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army,
Defendants-Appellees.
Beulah Mae HARRIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
and
Mattiebelle C. Harris, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R.
Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Leonetta Bibby, Annette Todd,
William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel Early, Bernard Fields,
Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker, Thelma Curry, John
Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine Ballew, Robert Bronson,
Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B. McMillan, Mitchell
McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola McLean, Alicia Chisholm,
King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon, Joyce Malone, Deborah
McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet Henderson, Nancy Alexander,
Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne
Sheppard, Leonza Loftin, Sandra L. Blue, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army,
Defendants-Appellees.
In re FERGUSON, STEIN, WATT, WALLAS & ADKINS, P.A., Appellant.
Mattiebelle C. HARRIS, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R.
Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta
Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel
Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker,
Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine
Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B.
McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola
McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon,
Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet
Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy
McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin,
Sandra L. Blue, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army, Defendants.
In re Geraldine SUMTER, Appellant.
Mattiebelle C. HARRIS, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R.
Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta
Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel
Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker,
Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine
Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B.
McMillan, Mitchell McKellar, Carol J. Anderson, Veola
McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon,
Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet
Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy
McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin,
Sandra L. Blue, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army, Defendants.
In re Julius L. CHAMBERS, Appellant.
Mattiebelle C. HARRIS, Samuel P. Sheppard, Sandra L. Blue,
Edward R. Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris,
Leonetta Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love,
Manuel Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia
Walker, Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming,
Geraldine Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles,
Edith B. McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson,
Veola McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane
Hendon, Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet
Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy
McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF the ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army,
Defendants-Appellees.
NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND, INC., Appellant,
and
Mattiebelle C. Harris, Samuel P. Sheppard, Edward R.
Humphrey, Robert L. Evans, Beulah Mae Harris, Leonetta
Bibby, Annette Todd, William Kincy, James T. Love, Manuel
Early, Bernard Fields, Betty Reid, Lynn Siler, Lelia Walker,
Thelma Curry, John Smith, James N. Fleming, Geraldine
Ballew, Robert Bronson, Omie White, Carlton Giles, Edith B.
McMillan, Mitchell McKeller, Carol J. Anderson, Veola
McLean, Alicia Chisholm, King S. Cameron, Jeane Hendon,
Joyce Malone, Deborah McMillan, Doris Turner, Violet
Henderson, Nancy Alexander, Catherine Gutierrez, Nancy
McGlone, Jessie Williams, Dianne Sheppard, Leonza Loftin,
Sandra L. Blue, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, John O. Marsh, Jr.,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Army,
Defendants-Appellees.
Nos. 88-1364, 88-1376 to 88-1380.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued March 6, 1990.
Decided Sept. 18, 1990.
As Amended Oct. 12, 1990.

Page 530

Bonnie Kayatta-Steingart, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, New York City, William Clarence McNeill, III, Employment Law Center, San Francisco, Cal., George Cochran, Law Center, University, Miss. (John Sullivan, Douglas H. Flaum, Tricia Kallett Klosk, Peter L. Simmons, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, New York City, Cressie H. Thigpen, Jr., Raleigh, N.C., Morton Stavis, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, Stephen B. Burbank, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, Pa., Georgene Vairo, Fordham Law School, New York City, Jerold Solovy, Laura Kaster, Jenner & Block, Chicago, Ill., Barrington D. Parker, Jr., Leslie D. Callahan, Morrison & Foerster, New York City, on brief), for appellants.

Mark B. Stern, Civil Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C. (Stuart M. Gerson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert S. Greenspan, Thomas M. Bondy, Civil Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., Margaret P. Currin, U.S. Atty., Raleigh, N.C., on brief), for appellees.

Before ERVIN, Chief Judge, and PHILLIPS and WILKINSON, Circuit Judges.

WILKINSON, Circuit Judge:

In this case we must determine whether the district court erred in imposing sanctions on two Title VII plaintiffs, their counsel, and counsel's law firm. The court invoked a number of different yet overlapping legal theories to justify its imposition of sanctions, including Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 11 and 16, the "bad faith" exception to the American Rule, and 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1927. In imposing the sanctions, the court ordered not only that defendant be awarded payment for court costs and attorneys' fees, but also that the court itself be reimbursed for the expenses it incurred and the time it spent presiding over the litigation. It also directed that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund not pay any part of the sanctions for the lawyers involved in the case. Harris v. Marsh, 679 F.Supp. 1204 (E.D.N.C.1987). Plaintiffs, counsel, counsel's law firm, and the Legal Defense Fund challenge the propriety of the sanctions on numerous factual and legal

Page 531

grounds. Finding merit in some, but not all, of their contentions, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the district court.

I.

In the spring of 1980, two civilian employees at the United States Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, contacted Julius Chambers, a civil rights attorney from Charlotte, North Carolina, concerning an administrative class action they had filed alleging racial discrimination at Fort Bragg. Chambers conferred with statisticians at that time and was assured that their analyses demonstrated statistically significant racial effects in a number of employment practices at Fort Bragg. He agreed to represent two potential class members in the processing of the administrative complaint. During the administrative proceedings, the EEOC Complaints Examiner concluded that a class should be certified with respect to the claims of discriminatory promotions and reprisal.

A class action complaint was filed in federal court by Chambers in September 1981 with appellant Sandra Blue as one of five class representatives. Plaintiffs maintained that the United States Army had discriminated on the basis of race against them and other similarly situated black civilian employees at Fort Bragg with respect to numerous employment opportunities, in violation of section 717(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-16(a). They sought back pay and injunctive and other equitable relief on behalf of themselves and the class.

The suit was the largest class action in employment discrimination ever filed against the United States Army. Hundreds of military and civilian employees were charged with racially discriminatory actions. Plaintiffs' allegations of racial discrimination were wide-ranging. They accused the Army of engaging in discriminatory practices in virtually every aspect of civilian employment: in hiring and promotion criteria, pay practices, job assignments, job performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, reductions-in-force, and numerous aspects of on-the-job treatment.

Massive discovery began in November of 1981. An estimated five million documents were produced in the course of discovery, the majority by the Army. In addition, one hundred and forty-nine depositions were ultimately filed with the court.

In January of 1983, Geraldine Sumter, a young attorney eighteen months out of law school and six months out of a judicial clerkship, joined Chamber's law firm and was assigned to this case. She was one of only two associates assisting Chambers full-time on the case. Minor research assistance was provided by several other attorneys.

Discovery ended in February 1983, and a hearing was held in May 1983 to determine whether the litigation should go forward as a class action. In July 1983 the district court denied class certification because plaintiffs had failed to...

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  • Norelus v. Denny's Inc., No. 07-14077
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 28, 2010
    ...objectively reckless beyond the pale of permissible conclusions it could reach. Frazier, 387 F.3d at 1259; cf. Blue v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 914 F.2d 525, 535 (4th Cir.1990) ("As a matter of law there is no requirement that a party move for summary judgment as a precondition to the recovery o......
  • Drone Techs., Inc. v. Parrot S.A., Parrot, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • September 29, 2016
    ...We turn first to the discovery orders. 1. District courts must generally follow their own local rules. See Blue v. U.S. Dep't of Army , 914 F.2d 525, 550 (4th Cir. 1990) (vacating attorney-disciplinary sanctions because “the district court failed to follow its own local rules”); Ortega v. G......
  • Anderson v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., No. 03-1150.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 4, 2005
    ...preselection would work to the detriment of all applicants for the job, black and white alike." Blue v. United States Dep't of the Army, 914 F.2d 525, 541 (4th Cir.1990). The Blue court noted that while preselection may establish that an employee was "unfairly treated, it does not by itself......
  • Vandeventer v. Wabash Nat. Corp., No. 4:93cv0046 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • June 30, 1995
    ..."While section 1927 does not authorize a sanction in the nature of a share of the court's overhead, see Blue v. U.S. Dept. of Army, 914 F.2d 525, 548 (4th Cir.1990) cert. denied, 499 U.S. 959, 111 S.Ct. 1580, 113 L.Ed.2d 645 (1991), an order directing nominal reimbursement of the cost to th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
152 cases
  • Norelus v. Denny's Inc., No. 07-14077
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 28, 2010
    ...objectively reckless beyond the pale of permissible conclusions it could reach. Frazier, 387 F.3d at 1259; cf. Blue v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 914 F.2d 525, 535 (4th Cir.1990) ("As a matter of law there is no requirement that a party move for summary judgment as a precondition to the recovery o......
  • Drone Techs., Inc. v. Parrot S.A., Parrot, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • September 29, 2016
    ...We turn first to the discovery orders. 1. District courts must generally follow their own local rules. See Blue v. U.S. Dep't of Army , 914 F.2d 525, 550 (4th Cir. 1990) (vacating attorney-disciplinary sanctions because “the district court failed to follow its own local rules”); Ortega v. G......
  • Anderson v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., No. 03-1150.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 4, 2005
    ...preselection would work to the detriment of all applicants for the job, black and white alike." Blue v. United States Dep't of the Army, 914 F.2d 525, 541 (4th Cir.1990). The Blue court noted that while preselection may establish that an employee was "unfairly treated, it does not by itself......
  • Vandeventer v. Wabash Nat. Corp., No. 4:93cv0046 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • June 30, 1995
    ..."While section 1927 does not authorize a sanction in the nature of a share of the court's overhead, see Blue v. U.S. Dept. of Army, 914 F.2d 525, 548 (4th Cir.1990) cert. denied, 499 U.S. 959, 111 S.Ct. 1580, 113 L.Ed.2d 645 (1991), an order directing nominal reimbursement of the cost to th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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