United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
SALTY FIN HOLDINGS, LLC and MICHAEL A. LETTS, Plaintiffs,
SALTY FIN INTERNATIONAL, LLC, THE SALTY FIN REAL ESTATE COMPANY, LLC, SALTY FIN REALTY, LLC, SALTY FIN, LLC, SALTY FIN HOLDINGS & REALTY, LLC, THE ESTATE OF THERESA HIGGINS, and STACY AGRAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
was an action for trade dress infringement and false
designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) and
related claims arising under state law. The Court has
jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 and 1367.
before the Court is Defendants' motion for sanctions
under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 11 and the South Carolina
Frivolous Civil Proceedings Sanctions Act, SC Code §
15-36-10 (SCFCPSA or the Act). Having carefully considered
the motion, the response, the reply, and the surreply, it is
the judgment of the Court Defendants' motion for
sanctions will be denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed their initial complaint on April 27, 2016, in the Court
of Common Pleas for Richland County, South Carolina, ECF No.
1-1, and Defendants removed the case to this Court, ECF No.
1. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the initial
complaint, ECF No. 9, and, in response, Plaintiffs requested
leave to amend the complaint, ECF No. 17. The Court granted
Plaintiffs leave to amend and dismissed Defendants'
motion without prejudice. ECF No. 24. Plaintiffs filed the
final version of their complaint on December 7, 2016
(Complaint), ECF No. 28, which Defendants moved to dismiss.
ECF No. 31. On March 2, 2017, the Court entered an Order
granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion
to dismiss. ECF No. 36. The Court granted the portion of
Defendants' motion requesting the Court dismiss the
claims asserted by Plaintiff Michael A. Letts (Mr. Letts) and
denied the remainder of the motion.
November 17, 2017, Plaintiff Salty Fin Holdings, LLC (SF
Holdings), the only remaining plaintiff at the time, filed a
stipulation with the consent of Defendants dismissing with
prejudice all remaining claims. ECF No. 59. The Clerk of
Court entered a corresponding Judgment on November 20, 2017,
ECF No. 60, and this case was closed.
filed their motion for sanctions on November 27, 2017. ECF
No. 61. Plaintiffs responded in opposition, ECF No. 62, and
Defendants replied, ECF No. 63. Plaintiffs then filed a
surreply. ECF No. 64. Having been fully briefed on the
relevant issues, the Court is now prepared to discuss the
merits of Defendants' motion for sanctions.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Civil Procedure Rule 11 provides in relevant part:
(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court
a pleading, written motion, or other paper-whether by
signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it-an
attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of
the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed
after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such
as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase
the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are
warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for
extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for
establishing new law;
(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if
specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary
support after a reasonable opportunity for ...