…But they weren’t as oppressive as my subject line may imply.
In a 13 page decision, released April 22, 2016, Judge Gross of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court granted a motion to dismiss an adversary proceeding and sanctioned the Plaintiff – disallowing any further litigation against the defendants in the Bankruptcy Court. Judge Gross’ opinion is available here (the “Opinion”).
This is a relatively benign holding, despite the knee-jerk reaction I had when I saw Judge Gross (about the nicest person you could ever hope to meet) grant a request for sanctions. In summary, the plaintiff, Michael T. Kennedy, filed a complaint against Skadden Arps and several other parties associated with the Radnor bankruptcy, alleging, in essence, that the defendants conspired together to take the assets away from equity holders.
Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the Radnor bankruptcy and sale hearing, both occurring in 2006, were the last possible date by which he became aware of the facts alleged in the complaint. At the time his complaint was filed, all applicable statutes of limitation had lapsed. Opinion at *9. In addition, he had already raised all of the claims contained in his complaint in prior proceedings in the Bankruptcy Court, and res judicata prohibited him from litigating the issues again. Opinion at *10. Further, as an equity holder, the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue the claims alleged in the complaint. Opinion at *11.
Judge Gross concluded his Opinion by addressing Skadden’s request for sanctions. Judge Gross determined that while the litigation was beyond reason, it was not meant to harass; so he did not issue a monetary sanction, but instead enjoined the plaintiff from filing further pleadings against the defendants. Opinion at *12.
I have little doubt that Judge Gross’ Opinion, and the leniency therein, resulted in part because the plaintiff was a pro-se litigant. Few and far between are individuals willing to spend their precious time to advance a legal case without the benefit of an attorney. It takes a tremendous amount of self confidence to stand opposite professionals who spend thousands of hours each year diligently pursuing this craft. In point of fact, nearly every attorney I know will quickly hire an attorney if involved personally in a legal issue outside of their practice.