United States District Court, D. Utah
Nuffer District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR RULE 11 SANCTIONS
B. PEAD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter was referred to the court under 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A). (ECF No. 3.) The case involves allegations of
copyright violations related to the film Machete.
(See ECF No. 46.) Defendants filed a “Motion
for Rule 11 Sanctions” seeking dismissal of all claims
against Univision Salt Lake City, LLC, Univision
Communications Inc., and Univision Holdings, Inc.
(collectively “Univision Defendants”), as well as
attorney fees expended defending this action. (ECF No. 90).
The Motion is fully briefed and ready for the court's
decision. (See ECF Nos. 90, 96, 107). The court
declines the parties' requests for oral argument, finding
no good cause to entertain a hearing.
signing, filing, submitting, or advocating a written
submission to the court, counsel represents “the
factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if
specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary
support after a reasonable opportunity for further
investigation or discovery.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(3).
This requires an attorney to conduct an
objectively-reasonable investigation of the facts before
signing a document filed with the court. See
Adamson v. Bowen, 855 F.2d 668, 673 (10th Cir.
1988). Reasonableness of counsel's conduct necessarily
depends upon the prevailing facts and circumstances of a
given case. See Garth O. Green Enterprises, Inc. v.
Harward, No. 2:15-cv-556, 2017 WL 213787, at *7 (D. Utah
Jan. 18, 2017) (discussing relevant factors mentioned in the
advisory committee notes to Rule 11). The court enjoys broad
discretion in determining whether Rule 11 sanctions are
appropriate. Adamson at 673.
contend Rule 11 sanctions are warranted because the Univision
Defendants did not broadcast Machete at any time,
but Plaintiff alleges they have done so every year since
2010. (ECF No. 90 at 8-9). Defendants point out that Plaintiff
has not identified any facts to support its allegation that
Univision Defendants broadcast Machete, despite
discovery requests seeking such information. (Id. at
10). Defendants contend Plaintiff's investigation of the
underlying facts was unreasonable under the six factors
applied in Garth O. Green Enterprises v. Harward,
No. 2:15-cv-556, 2017 WL 213787, *7 (D. Utah Jan. 18. 2017).
(Id. at 11-17).
former counsel at Parr Brown Gee & Loveless (“Parr
Brown”) argues Rule 11 sanctions are not warranted
simply because certain factual allegations are ultimately
proven untrue, so long as there was some evidentiary basis
supporting Plaintiff's claims when they were alleged.
(ECF No. 96 at 4). Parr Brown contends it adequately
investigated the allegations against the Univision Defendants
and found those allegations adequately supported by client
testimony and circumstantial evidence. (Id. at
5-15). Parr Brown also contends the motion is procedurally
improper insofar as it seeks dismissal with prejudice.
(Id. at 15-17). Finally, Parr Brown requests an
award of its attorney fees incurred in defending the motion.
(Id. at 17).
initial matter, the court notes Defendants' request for
dismissal pursuant to Rule 11 is now moot because Judge
Nuffer dismissed Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 127) The
court turns now to the second portion of Defendants'
request for sanctions: an award of attorney fees to Univision
The court denies Defendants' request for attorney-fee
sanctions because Defendants have not established a violation
of Rule 11
court declines to award Univision Defendants their attorney
fees because Defendants have not shown Plaintiff's claims
lacked evidentiary support or that counsel failed to
reasonably investigate Plaintiff's claims. “[T]he
court should not ordinarily have to explain its denial of a
motion for sanctions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, advisory
committee note. Nonetheless, the court does so here because
it believes an explanation may benefit future parties and
counsel when they consider whether to file Rule 11 motions.
Defendants take issue with the following allegations in the