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Award of attorney's fees and sanctions against former police officers in their civil rights suit
Lamboy-Ortiz v. Ortiz-Velez, 09-1640, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of $130,000 in attorney's fees and over $60,000 in sanctions against plaintiffs and their counse, in former police officers' suit against a mayor and various members of a police department, each of whom belong to the opposition Popular Democratic Party (PDP), in Puerto Rico, claiming that defendants conspired to deprive them of their civil rights and effectively remove them from the local police force.
In vacating the award of attorney's fees, the court held that, because there is no evidence that plaintiffs were "clearly" unreasonable in continuing to prosecute their claims to trial, and some evidence to the contrary, the district court's award of fees cannot be justified on this ground. However, although the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions on plaintiffs' counsel, based on the counsel's vexatious conduct and manifest disrespect of the district court proceedings, the amount is reduced to $5,000 as the amount of sanction far exceeds what could be justified in the name of deterrence.
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