Florida Record

Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. court denies sanctions for attorney fees against former Blue Heron Commercial Group counsel

Lawsuits

By Marian Johns | Jul 5, 2019


FORT MYERS — A federal court has denied a defendant's request for sanctions for attorney fees against the former counsel in a case involving Blue Heron Commercial Group.

According to the June 20 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, defendants Lee Webber and Gerald T. Filipiak asked the court for sanctions in attorney fees against plaintiff Blue Heron Commercial Group, Inc., formerly known as Eagle Crest Manufactured Home Park, Inc., and former counsel Kenneth Chase.  

The case, originally filed in Lee County Circuit Court, involves a capital expenditures dispute with Webber and Filipiak prevailing in the case. 

Webber and Filipiak now argue that Chase filed "a frivolous complaint" against them because the claims were "precluded by res judicata."  Webber and Filipiak also seek an injunction that would bar Blue Heron from further lawsuits against them without leave of court, according to the filing. 

Blue Heron argues that Rule 11 sanctions are "unwarranted" and "untimely" because they were entered after a court granted summary judgment and entered a final judgment dismissing Blue Heron's complaint. 

Senior U.S. District Judge John Steele agreed with Blue Heron and found that sanctions against Chase "are not warranted in this case" neither through Rule 11 or the "court's inherent powers."

Steele stated that "while the court finds no merit in Blue Heron’s contention that it was not in privity with defendants for res judicata purposes, the court cannot determine that Blue Heron knowingly or recklessly raised a frivolous argument."

Therefore, the court denied Webber's and Filipiak's motion for sanctions. 

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