UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA CASE No. 22-14102-CV-MIDDLEBROOKS DONALD J. TRUMP, Plaintiff, v. HILLARY R. CLINTON, et al., Defendants. _________________________________________/ ORDER ON SANCTIONS
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Brody Larson collates 53 highlights to UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CASE No. 22-14102-CV-MIDDLEBROOKS
DONALD J. TRUMP,
HILLARY R. CLINTON, et al.,
ORDER ON SANCTIONS
Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on March 24, 2022, alleging that “the
Defendants, blinded by
political ambition, orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate
patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his
campaign, all in the hope of destroying his life, his
political career, and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of
Hillary Clinton.” (DE 1 ¶ 9).
The next day, Alina Habba, Mr. Trump’s lead counsel told Fox News’ Sean
You can’t make this up. You literally cannot make a story like this
up . . . and President Trump is just not going to take it anymore. If
you are going to make up lies, if you are going to try to take him
down, he is going to fight you back. And that is what this is, this is
the beginning of all that.1
She then explained on Newsmax:
What the real goal [of the suit] is, is democracy, is continuing to
make sure that our elections, continuing to make sure our justice
system is not obstructed by political enemies. That cannot happen.
And that’s exactly what happened. They obstructed justice. They
continued the false narrative . . . This grand scheme, that you could
not make up, to take down an opponent. That is un-American.2
On April 20, 2022, less than a month after the Complaint was filed, Hillary
for dismissal with prejudice. Her motion identified substantial and
fundamental factual and legal
flaws. Each of the other Defendants followed suit, pointing to specific
problems with the claims
against them. The problems in the Complaint were obvious from the start.
They were identified
by the Defendants not once but twice, and Mr. Trump persisted anyway.
Despite this briefing and the promise “to cure any deficiencies,”
Plaintiff’s counsel filed
the Amended Complaint on June 21, 2022. (DE 177). The Amended Complaint
failed to cure any
of the defects. See DE 267, Order of Dismissal (September 8, 2022).
Instead, Plaintiff added
eighty new pages of largely irrelevant allegations that did nothing to
salvage the legal sufficiency
of his claims. (DE 267 at 64). The Amended Complaint is 193 pages in
length, with 819 numbered
paragraphs, and contains 14 counts, names 31 defendants, 10 John Does
described as fictitious and
unknown persons, and 10 ABC Corporations identified as fictitious and
On July 14, 2022, the United States moved pursuant to the Westfall Act, 28
U.S.C. § 2679
(d)(i), to substitute itself as Defendant for James Comey, Andrew McCabe,
Peter Strzok, Lisa
Page, and Kevin Clinesmith. (DE 224). On July 21, 2022, I granted the
motion to substitute. (DE
On September 8, 2022, I dismissed the case with prejudice as to all
Defendants except for
the United States.
I issued a detailed and lengthy Order, which I incorporate by reference
(DE 267). I found that fatal substantive defects which had been clearly
laid out in the first round
of briefing, precluded the Plaintiff from proceeding under any of the
theories presented. I found
that the Amended Complaint was a quintessential shotgun pleading, that its
claims were foreclosed
by existing precedent, and its factual allegations were undermined and
contradicted by the public
reports and filings upon which it purported to rely. I reserved
jurisdiction to adjudicate issues
pertaining to sanctions.
Undeterred by my Order and two rounds of briefing by multiple defendants,
continued to advance Plaintiff’s claims. In a September 10, 2022, interview
with Sean Hannity,
the host asked her “Why isn’t [Hillary Clinton] being held accountable for
what she did?” Ms.
Habba’s response reiterated misrepresentations on which this lawsuit was
Because when you have a Clinton judge as we did here, Judge
Middlebrooks who I had asked to recuse himself but insisted that he
didn’t need to, he was going to be impartial, and then proceeds to
write a 65-page scathing order where he basically ignored every
factual basis which was backed up by indictments, by investigations, the
Mueller report, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, not to mention
Durham, and all the testimony we heard there, we get dismissed.
Not only do we get dismissed, he says that this is not the proper
place for recourse for Donald Trump. He has no legal ramifications.
Where what [sic] is the proper place for him? Because the FBI
won’t help when you can do anything, obstruct justice, blatantly lie
to the FBI, Sussmann’s out, he gets acquitted, where do you go?
That’s the concern for me, where do you get that -- that recourse?4
She also indicated that, while Mr. Trump doubted the suit would succeed,
“fought” to pursue it:
You know, I have to share with you a story, Sean, that I have not
shared with anybody. The recourse that I have at this point is
obviously to appeal this to the 11th Circuit as Gregg said. But when
I brought this case and we were assigned you know, this judge and
we went through the recusal process, we lost five magistrates,
including Reinhart [sic] who’s dealing with the boxes as we know.
The former president looked at me and he told me, you know what
Alina. You’re not going to win. You can’t win, just get rid of it,
don’t do the case. And I said, no, we have to fight. It’s not right
what happened. And you know, he was right, and it’s a sad day for
me personally because I fought him on [it] and I should have
listened, but I don’t want to lose hope in our system. I don’t. So,
you know I’m deciding whether we’re going to appeal it.5
Defendants now move to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under Fed. R. Civ.
P. 11, 28
U.S.C. § 1927, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and/or this Court’s inherent
power. (DE 280 at 1).
In Part II, I find that a sanction under this Court’s inherent power is
appropriate. I do so by
examining Plaintiff’s (and his lawyers’) conduct throughout this
litigation. In Part III, I look to
Plaintiff’s conduct in other cases. And in Part IV, I determine the
reasonableness of Defendants’
attorneys’ fees and costs.
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