The Northern District of Oklahoma has ordered an attorney to offer lectures to law students on the potential pitfalls of bringing a lawsuit without proper supervision from a more experienced attorney in Salmon v. CRST Expedited Inc., No. 4:14-cv-00265 (N.D. Okla. July 19, 2016). Judge Clare V. Eagan accepted the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge T. Lane Wilson in sanctioning a newly admitted attorney for frivolous claims brought against one of the defendants in a TCPA suit he filed while still in law school. In 2014, plaintiff filed a lawsuit based on alleged violations of the TCPA and the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act claim arising from calls he allegedly received on his cell phone, a number he claims was on the National Do Not Call Registry since 2008. The plaintiff identified many of the defendants as “John Doe telemarketers” or “John Doe teletexters,” but later amended his complaint to identify named defendants including Nutra Pharm Corp (“NPC”). Defendant NPC filed a motion to dismiss and sought sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11.
The Northern District of Oklahoma granted NPC’s motion to dismiss, finding plaintiff’s claims against NPC to be frivolous. Magistrate Judge Wilson recommended both monetary and non-monetary sanctions. Neither party objected to Judge Wilson’s recommendation that the plaintiff formally offer to speak to law students at The University of Tulsa College of Law “about the dangers of filing a lawsuit without having an experienced attorney to review it.” Id. at 8. Rather, the parties disputed the $3,000 sanction recommended by Judge Wilson, with NPC arguing that it did not fully compensate them for the $8,350 it incurred in attorney’s fees and costs, and plaintiff arguing that the proposed $3,000 sanction would impose a financial hardship upon him as he is a newly licensed attorney who has just opened his own practice. Judge Eagan held that sanctions appropriately balanced the costs incurred by NPC in defending the frivolous action, with the plaintiff’s financial situation and relative lack of experience, which the court considered a mitigating factor. Moreover, the court was satisfied that the imposition of both monetary and non-monetary sanctions would properly impose the desired effective of Rule 11 to deter parties from engaging in any future litigation misconduct.