The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry M. Kurren United States Magistrate Judge
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RULE 11 SANCTIONS BE GRANTED
Before the Court is Defendant Hawaii Aviation Contract Services, Inc.'s Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions (Doc. 22). The Court heard this Motion on July 5, 2012 and on August 31, 2012. After careful consideration of the Motion, the supporting and opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, the Court finds and recommends that Defendant's Motion be GRANTED.
Plaintiff Bruce G. Schoggen was employed by Defendant pursuant to a January 27, 1993 Pilot Contract. (Doc. 28 at 2.) Defendant terminated Plaintiff's Pilot Contract in September 2004. (Id.)
On December 2, 2004, Plaintiff initiated a civil action for wrongful discharge against Defendant and others in this Court. See Schoggen v. Hawaii Aviation Contract Services, et al., CV. NO. 04-00707 DAE-LEK. Plaintiff was represented by attorney Venetia K. Carpenter-Asui in this action.*fn1 Plaintiff asserted claims for age discrimination, violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, breaches of contract, intentional interference with economic relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and punitive damages. (Defendant Ex. A at 2.) In 2005, then-Chief District Judge David Alan Ezra granted Plaintiff's motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the lawsuit. (Id.)
After an arbitration hearing, the arbitrator issued a Final Arbitration Award on March 5, 2007. (Doc. 28 at 3.) The arbitrator concluded that Defendant's termination of Plaintiff breached the Pilot Contract, but denied Plaintiff's request for front pay. (Id.) The Final Arbitration Award stated that it fully settled all of the claims and counterclaims in the arbitration. (Id.)
Following the arbitrator's Final Arbitration Award, Plaintiff initiated a second civil action in this Court, in which he moved to confirm the arbitration award. Schoggen v. Hawaii Aviation Contract Services, et al., CV. NO. 07-00149 SOM-KSC. Plaintiff was represented by attorney David F. Simons. Plaintiff sought only to confirm the award, and he did not seek to modify or vacate any part of the award. On June 29, 2007, Chief District Judge Susan Oki Mollway confirmed the Final Arbitration Award, and a Satisfaction of Judgment was thereafter filed by Plaintiff.
Nearly a year later, Plaintiff retained new counsel, attorney Martin Cervantes, who wrote a demand letter to Defendant for "front pay," which had already been denied by the arbitrator and that denial had been confirmed by Judge Mollway. (Defendant Ex. E.) Defendant notified Cervantes that front pay had "been foreclosed by judgment and principles of res judicata." (Defendant Exs. F, H.) Defendant also suggested that Cervantes consult with Plaintiff's former counsel and review the history of Plaintiff's litigation. (Defendant Ex. J.)
On January 7, 2009, Cervantes initiated a claim before the American Arbitration Association ("AAA"), seeking front pay for Plaintiff. (Defendant Ex. N.) Defendant continued to assert that Plaintiff's claim was barred by res judicata and filed a declaratory judgment action in this Court to declare that res judicata barred the claim before the AAA. (Defendant Exs. Q, R.); Hawaii Aviation Contract Services, Inc. v. Schoggen, CV. NO. 09-00103 SPK-LEK. Ultimately, on March 26, 2009, the AAA declined to process Plaintiff's arbitration demand, noting that the 2007 Final Arbitration Award was a "full settlement of all claims and counterclaims." (Defendant Ex. V.) The AAA denied Cervantes's request for reconsideration. (Defendant Ex. X.) Defendant thereafter noticed the dismissal of the declaratory judgment action it had filed in this Court. (Defendant Ex. Y.)
Nearly three years after the AAA declined to process Plaintiff's arbitration demand, Plaintiff filed the present action in this Court. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff is represented by Ira Dennis Hawver. After being served the Verified Complaint, Defendant notified Hawver that the claims in this case were resolved by Judge Mollway's June 29, 2007 Order confirming the arbitration award and the resulting Judgment in that case. (Defendant Ex. Z.)
Defendant also asked Hawver to dismiss the Verified Complaint and notified him that a Rule 11 motion would be prepared. (Id.) Defendant advised Hawver to consult with Schoggen's former attorneys -- Carpenter-Asui, Simons, and Cervantes -- and provided their contact information and a full history of the front pay claim. (Id.) Additionally, Defendant briefed Hawver on res judicata and how it barred the claims in the Verified Complaint. (Id.)
On March 5, 2012, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the Verified Complaint. (Doc. 7.) On June 28, 2012, District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi granted that motion, holding that the litigation and arbitration outlined above resolved Plaintiff's claims and that, therefore, "res judicata bars all of Plaintiff's claims" in this case. (Doc. 28.) Judgment was entered in Defendant's favor that same day.
Defendant followed the safe harbor provisions of Rule 11 before filing ...