In June, I wrote about the Seventh Circuit imposing sanctions on an attorney for engaging in forum shopping. This week, the Seventh Circuit issued another opinion in that case.
Christopher D. Stombaugh, the attorney sanctioned in this case, sought rehearing. His petition argued, for the first time, that 28 U.S.C. §1927 does not authorize sanctions for conduct that occurred in state court before the case appeared on the federal docket. On August 9, the Seventh Circuit responded to this argument in a new opinion. See Boyer v. BNSF Ry. Co., Nos. 14-3131 & 14-3182, slip op. (7th Cir. Aug. 9, 2016). The court recognized that there is disagreement among authorities on the applicability of §1927 to state court proceedings later removed to federal court. See id. at 3-4 (citing cases).
Without conceding or deciding the scope of its authority under §1927, the court decided to “invoke our inherent authority as an alternative ground for our decision to impose sanctions on Stombaugh.” Id. at 6. On that basis, the Seventh Circuit revised its earlier opinion to offer an alternate source of authority for the sanctions imposed. See id. Stombaugh’s request for rehearing by the entire court, rather than a panel of three judges, was denied. See id.
The upshot is that the reach of §1927 remains an open question, and Stombaugh remains on the hook for sanctions.