The seventh circuit sanctions attorney for frivolous arguments in favor of baseless attorney fee claims
The Seventh Circuit found an attorney’s arguments on appeal frivolous and ordered him to show cause why he should not be sanctioned pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 38. After considering the parties’ filings, the court imposed Rule 38 sanctions in the amount of $7,500 and referred the attorney to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
An appeal is frivolous “when the result is obvious or when the appellant’s argument is wholly without merit.” According to the court’s findings, the attorney’s arguments on appeal were the continuation of a years-long effort to extract money from his client on frivolous theories. Specifically, the court found that the attorney’s claim that he was entitled to fees on a contingent basis because he “secured” funds for his client, even though the opposing party’s settlement offer was rejected, “falls squarely on the frivolous side of the line.” Further, the attorney failed to justify – either in the trial court or on appeal – his assertion of a $70,000 attorney lien, even though there was no known basis for a claim in that (or any) amount. Although the attorney referred to the lien amount as arising from an incorrect “mathematical calculation,” the court observed that the attorney “has provided no basis on which we could even guess that he had a reasonable basis for claiming $70,000 or what mathematical mistake he might have made.”
Goyal v. Gas Technology Institute (Appeal of Gomberg), 732 F.3d 821 (7th Cir. 2013).