Young v. Smith, No. 17-3190 (3d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Pollick represented students in civil rights claims against a school district and a teacher. After the first trial, the jury returned a verdict for Pollick’s clients. The Third Circuit affirmed an order requiring a new trial based upon Pollick’s misconduct. The second trial, only against the school district, resulted in a complete defense verdict. Before a third trial, the teacher tendered a Rule 68 offer of judgment for $25,000, which Pollick’s clients accepted; it allowed for “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs as to the claims against [the teacher] only.” Pollick submitted a petition requesting $733,002 in fees and costs incurred while representing her clients against both the district and the teacher, including fees and costs for the second trial in which Pollick’s clients were not the prevailing party. The court ordered Pollick to show cause why she should not be sanctioned for seeking “fees and costs for portions of the litigation that were necessitated by her own vexatious conduct, as against defendants that she ultimately did not prevail, for certain expenses previously held unrecoverable ... and relative to the total settlement of $25,000[.]” Pollick proffered the “utterly ridiculous argument” that it was the job of opposing counsel and the court to ferret out entries that were invalid. Noting that the fee petition was single-spaced, in 6- or 8-point font that consumed 44 pages and included hundreds of inappropriate, unethical entries, the court denied Pollick’s petition in its entirety, issued concurrent $25,000 sanctions (FRCP 11; 28 U.S.C. 1927), and referred Pollick to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board. The Third Circuit affirmed, concluding that the “drastic” measures were justified.