Chien v. Barron Capital Advisors
A District Court possesses the power to order sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 even if the District Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Andrew Chien of New Haven, wrongly attempted to represent U.S. China Channel LLC as a pro se litigant and, in response, the District Court ordered sanctions against Chien, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. Chien appealed to the 2nd Circuit, which reviewed for abuse of discretion. "An abuse of discretion' occurs when a district court base[s] its ruling on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or render[s] a decision that cannot be located within the range of permissible decisions,' " pursuant to Kiobel v. Millson, a 2010 decision of the 2nd Circuit. Chien did not object to the District Court's primary reason for sanctions, as a result of his wrongful attempts to represent a limited liability company as a pro se litigant. The 2nd Circuit concluded that Chien abandoned that issue. Chien also did not object to the District Court's computation of the attorneys' fees, based on hourly rates and time records. Chien claimed that because the District Court found that he lacked standing to sue, the District Court also lacked jurisdiction to order sanctions. The 2nd Circuit found that the District Court possessed diversity jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 United States Code §1332(a) and (c), because Chien requested more than $160,000 and was a resident of Connecticut. The other litigants were a Delaware limited liability company, with a principal place of business in the State of New York, and a Florida corporation, with a principal place of business in China. Even if the District Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, wrote the 2nd Circuit, it possessed the power to order sanctions under Rule 11. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the order of the District Court, Haight, J.