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Attorneys: Sanctions-Frivolous Litigation-Reasonableness

Staff Report//August 30, 2023//

Attorneys: Sanctions-Frivolous Litigation-Reasonableness

Staff Report//August 30, 2023//

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Attorney Matthew Kezhaya appealed the district court’s order sanctioning him and his co-counsel. Kezhaya represented The Satanic Temple, Inc., in its civil rights lawsuit against the City of Belle Plaine, which alleged that the city violated the Temple’s constitutional rights by opening a public forum for a Christian monument but refusing to approve a Satanic monument, and also committed breaches of contract and promissory estoppel. The district court dismissed all but the promissory estoppel claim. A magistrate denied the Temple’s leave to amend to reassert its constitutional claims. Rather than appealing that decision, the Temple filed a second lawsuit. The district court imposed sanctions on Kezhaya, finding that the proposed amendments were futile and thus counsel wasted judicial resources by filing a second frivolous lawsuit.

Where the Temple had a full opportunity to litigate its constitutional claims and failed to pursue the proper recourse by appealing the magistrate judge’s decision, the district court properly sanctioned counsel for attempting to evade the decision by filing a second, duplicative lawsuit.

Judgment is affirmed.

Kezhaya v. City of Belle Plaine (MLW No. 80441/Case No. 22-2183 – 9 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Colloton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Wright, J. (Matthew A. Kezhaya, of Minneapolis, MN for appellant) (Monte Mills, of Minneapolis, MN for appellee; Katherine M. Swenson, of Minneapolis, MN on the brief)


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