Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 3 (1992)

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Cite as: 503 U. S. 131 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

state a claim, Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6), and dismissed petitioner's pendent state claims.

At the same time, the District Court granted respondent's motion for Rule 11 sanctions, awarding attorney's fees of $22,625 against Willy and his attorney, Young, jointly and severally. The District Court found that the filings made by plaintiff's counsel "create[d] a blur of absolute confusion." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-7. These included a 1,200-page, unindexed, unnumbered pile of materials that the District Court determined "to be a conscious and wanton affront to the judicial process, this Court, and opposing counsel" that was "irresponsible at a minimum and at worst intentionally harassing." Ibid. Petitioner's sanctionable behavior also included careless pleading, such as reliance on a nonexistent Federal Rule of Evidence. Ibid. None of the sanctionable conduct was related to petitioner's initial effort to convince the District Court that it was without subject-matter jurisdiction.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded that the District Court had lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the complaint raised no claims arising under federal law. 855 F. 2d 1160 (1988). It therefore reversed the District Court order dismissing the claims and instructed that the case be remanded to state court. The court also upheld the District Court's decision to award Rule 11 sanctions, although it remanded the case to the District Court to determine the amount. On remand the District Court recomputed the Rule 11 sanctions and imposed sanctions in the amount of $19,307, the amount of attorney's fees that respondent had incurred in responding to petitioner's sanctionable conduct. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 915 F. 2d 965 (CA5 1990).

On this second appeal, the Court of Appeals rejected petitioner's contention that, in the absence of subject-matter jurisdiction, the District Court was constitutionally without


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