United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR FEES AND COSTS
J. PECHMAN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed Defendant
Channa Copeland's Motions for Attorneys' Fees and
Costs (Dkt. No. 30), all attached declarations and exhibits,
and relevant portions of the record, rules as follows:
ORDERED that the motion is DENIED as to both causes of
Copeland filed this motion the day after the Court granted
Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration as to No.
C19-1296, withdrew its sua sponte dismissal and
reopened the case. (Dkt. No. 29.) She seeks attorney's
fees and costs in two matters before this Court in which she
is currently a defendant (C19-1296 and C19-1307). Defendant's
motion chronicles a history of threatening and abusive
behavior and questionable litigation tactics by Plaintiff
Jayakrishnan Nair stretching from August 2018 to the present.
(See Motion, Statement of Facts, pp. 5-9.) While the
Court is not without some sympathy for the travails of a
pro bono Guardian ad Litem who has been subjected to
extraordinary demands in the course of fulfilling her duties,
that does not translate to an entitlement to fees and costs
at this point in this litigation.
Court will analyze the motion separately for each of
Defendant's two cases.
Nair et al. v. Copeland et al.
case is still ongoing, and Defendant's request must be
analyzed in that light. The result is that some of her claims
of entitlement to fees and costs are untimely; others are
simply not supported by the statutory requirements. Defendant
asserts her right to reimbursement of fees and costs under
the following statutes and procedure rules:
• 28 USC § 1447(c): This statute
concerns the right to attorney fees in removal matters, and
only applies to orders of remand. C19-1296 is not a case
which was removed from state court, neither was it remanded
to state court.
• FedRCivP Rule 11: This rule requires
that any motion for sanctions be filed separately from any
other motion (FRCP 11(c)(2)), which was not done in
• FedRCivP Rule 68: This procedural
rule applies to offers of judgment. Although an offer of
judgment was made in C19-1296, the matter is still open and
Plaintiff did not accept the offer, so the rule is not (yet)
applicable to this case.
• 28 USC § 1927: This is the one
statute which arguably might support Defendant's request
for an award of fees and costs; it permits an award of fees
and costs against anyone who “multiplies the
proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously.”
It appears from the case law that courts have applied this
statute against an offending party during the pendency of the
litigation, except at the outset (on the rationale that the
filing of a complaint in and of itself cannot operate to
“multiply” the proceedings; see, e.g., Jensen
v. Phillips Screw Co., 546 F.3d 59, 65 (1st Cir.
while the Court understands that Defendant Copeland has a
long and arduous history with Plaintiff, and might well
believe that he has unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied
the various proceedings in which they have been jointly
involved, the Court must confine itself to the proceedings
within this particular lawsuit in applying the statute. A
review of those proceedings indicates that, while Plaintiff
himself has filed a multitude of motions of questionable
merit, Defendant has only been required to respond
substantively to one of them (see Dkt. No. 17,
Defendant Channa Copeland's Answer and Affirmative
Defenses). Under those circumstances, it cannot be said that
she qualifies for relief under § 1927 as regards this
litigation in its current posture.
on the foregoing reasoning, the Court must conclude that
Defendant Copeland is not presently entitled to an ...