Levine Lee News

Levine Lee Prevails in Second Circuit Appeal: Court of Appeals Vacates One of the Largest Sanctions Awards Ever Issued in the Southern District of New York

Levine Lee obtained a vacatur on behalf of its client, Virginia Properties, of one of the largest sanctions awards ever issued in the Southern District of New York. Virginia Properties retained Levine Lee after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sanctioned Virginia Properties for, according to the District Court, bringing a fraudulent case against defendant T-Mobile and engaging in widespread discovery abuse. The sanction consisted of dismissal with prejudice of Virginia Properties’ claims against T-Mobile, payment of all attorneys’ fees incurred by T-Mobile, third-parties, and a non-party since the inception of the case (over $600,000), and a further sanction of $75,000 payable to the District Court. A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court’s judgment, finding that: “The record contains no evidence of deceit.… The story the sanctions motion told – one of suppressed documents uncovered late in the litigation that blew a hole in the plaintiff’s damage claim – appears to have been based on little more than speculation and cherry-picked deposition testimony.” In addition, the Court of Appeals held that the sanctions award was in “tension” with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, 137 S. Ct. 1178 (2017). The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment in its entirety and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings in accordance with its decision. Kenneth E. Lee argued the appeal before the Second Circuit, and Seth L. Levine, Christos G. Papapetrou and Katie G. Crane worked on the matter. The case is Virginia Properties, LLC v. T-Mobile Northeast LLC, Docket No. 16-2973, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2017). The Court of Appeals’ opinion is available here, and an audio recording of the oral argument, held on June 12, 2017, is available here.

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