Attorney Sanctioned for “Monstrosity” Brief

In an order issued on January 22, Seventh Circuit Judges Diane Sykes, Michael Scudder, and Amy St. Eve confirmed sanctions against the plaintiff’s attorney. The sanctions arise from a brief that represents a “shameful waste of judicial resources,” resulting in a recovery of over $70,000 in attorney’s fees to the defendant supplemented by an award of double costs taxed by the court.

The case concerns Edith McCurry, an African American employee who was disciplined for unauthorized overtime and eventually laid off, along with the rest of the workforce of her employer, as the employer lost their major contract with candy company Mars. The underlying complaints, filed pro se, were described by the court in its appellate opinion as “rambling,” stating a litany of discrimination and conspiracy allegations. After the defendants won summary judgment, the plaintiff retained counsel and appealed the decision.

After considering the claims that had survived appeal, the Seventh Circuit noted that the appellate brief relied on “assertions that have no basis in the record and arguments that have no basis in the law.” Specific examples cited by the court include the assertion of arguments that were not made in the court below and are thus waived, poorly articulated requests for interlocutory orders, and a section where the appellant writes that “Defendants have been ‘gaming’ the system,” with no other information provided.

Due to the numerous “shockingly irresponsible” assertions made by the author of the brief, the court felt compelled to issue sanctions to reinforce public confidence in the legal profession.