Andre Walker v. Health International Corporation et al. (“HSN”)


Docket No. 2015-1676

REYNA, HUGHES, STOLL
January 6, 2017

Brief Summary: FC panel concluded “[t]his appeal was frivolous as filed” and included “numerous mischaracterizations of clear authority” (Octocom, FC 1990); DC award of attorneys’ fees found reasonable (and it doubled costs).

Summary: Walker appealed from DC award of sactions for “vexatious actions in continuing to litigate after the parties settled all claims” regarding US 7,090,627 HSN argued Walker’s appeal was frivolous and requested an award of damages and double costs under FRAP 38. The settlement agreement (“Agreement”) required HSN to pay Walker $200,000 after which Walker was “obligated to deliver a release to HSN and ‘by joint stipulation the parties to this agreement shall dismiss all claims between then with prejudice.’” HSM requested a motion to stay from the DC “based on the Agreement ‘that resolves all claims asserted between the parties’” but Walker argued this was “simply incorrect” and only acknowledged “significant progress” (“”[T]here are significant issues that remain to be resolved, and which may require the filing of an amended complaint.”) The FC panel opinion explained that the federal courts have an “inherent, equitable power to ‘award attorneys’ fees when the interests of justice so require” and is “within the court’s discretion when a part ‘has acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons” (Hall, US 1973). An “an appeal is frivolous as filed when ‘the judgment…was so plainly correct and the legal authority contrary to appellant’s position so clear that there really is no appealable issue’” or “when ‘the appellant’s misconduct is arguing the appeal’ justifies such a holding” (State Indus., FC 1992). “Such misconduct can include manufacturing arguments ‘by distorting the record, by disregarding or mischaracterizing the clear authority against its position, and by attempting to draw illogical conclusions from the facts and the law’” (State Indus., FC 1992). Walker argued the DC judgment was incorrectly made because, e.g., “the award of fees was improper because he was the ‘prevailing party’ in the lawsuit by compelling a ‘voluntary change’ in HSN’s conduct” and “raise[d] new arguments…amounting to baseless accusations against opposing counsel.” The FC panel concluded “[t]his appeal was frivolous as filed” and included “numerous mischaracterizations of clear authority” (Octocom, FC 1990) and that the DC award of attorneys’ fees was reasonable (and it doubled costs).

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