Legal Memorandum: Statutory Sanctions against Attorney

Issue: Under the law of the Virgin Islands, are there statutory sanctions available against an attorney who conducts bad faith litigation?

Area of Law: Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Keywords: Statutory sanctions; Attorney; Bad faith litigation
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 103 F.3d 294; 829 F.2d 1370; 57 F.3d 1215
Cited Statutes: 28 U.S.C. § 1927;
Date: 05/01/2004

A court may impose sanctions under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 if there is a showing of bad faith conduct.  See Fellheimer, Eichen & Braverman, P.C. v. Charter Technologies, Inc., 57 F.3d 1215, 1225 (3d Cir. 1995); In re Prudential Ins. Co. Am. Sales Practice Litig. Agent Actions, 278 F.3d 175, 189 (3d Cir. 2002) (attorney sanctions under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 were appropriate for recusal motion brought in bad faith, among other things). Section 1927 provides,

Any attorney or other person admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.

28 U.S.C. § 1927.  The primary reason for imposing sanctions under § 1927 is to deter any intentional and unnecessary delay in the proceedings.  Zuk v. E. Pa. Psychiatric Inst. of Med. Coll., 103 F.3d 294, 297 (3d Cir. 1996). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has interpreted the term “vexatious” as requiring a showing of bad faith. See Jones v. Pittsburgh Nat’l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350 (3d Cir. 1990).  Therefore, a court may impose sanctions pursuant to § 1927 if it finds “an attorney has (1) multiplied proceedings; (2) in an unreasonable and vexatious manner; (3) thereby increasing the cost of the proceedings; and (4) doing so in bad faith or by […]

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