United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOHN A. SOSINAVAGE, Plaintiff,
JOHN SCOTT THOMSON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION UPON RECONSIDERATION
L. HILLMAN U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiff's
motion [Docket Item 244] seeking reconsideration of the
Memorandum Opinion and Findings as well as the Judgment of
April 4, 2019 [Docket Items 239 & 240], entered in this
case by the late Honorable Jerome B. Simandle, U.S.D.J,
(See Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2019 WL
1493226 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2019); Judgment [Docket Item 240].)
In his April 4, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Judgment, Judge
Simandle granted County Defendants' unopposed application
for legal fees and expenses and entered judgment in favor of
the County of Camden and against Ms. Cheryl L. Cooper, Esq.
and the Law Offices of Cheryl L. Cooper in the amount of $89,
234.74 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and
Local Civil Rule 54.2. (See id.; Certification of
County Defs.' [Docket Item 225].) County Defendants
oppose Plaintiff's present motion and seek additional
fees and costs incurred subsequent to Judge Simandle's
prior Judgment awarding fees and costs. (See County
Defs.' Opp'n [Docket Item 254].) For the following
reasons, the Court will deny Plaintiff's present motion.
Factual and Procedural Background.
prior Opinions have detailed the lengthy factual and
procedural history of this case and the underlying motion,
see Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2018 WL
2357743, at *2-4 (D.N.J. May 24, 2018); Sosinavage v.
Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2019 WL 494824, at *1-3 (D.N.J.
Feb. 8, 2019); Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292,
2019 WL 1493226 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2019). Therefore, as the
Court writes primarily for the parties, this Opinion will not
repeat that entire history here, except for those procedural
facts necessary for the determination of the present motion.
As Judge Simandle previously stated:
on February 8, 2019, the Court granted the County
Defendants' renewed motion for sanctions and awarded Rule
11 sanctions in favor of the County Defendants and against
Plaintiff's attorney, Ms. Cheryl L. Cooper, Esq., for the
reasonable attorney's fees and expenses incurred since
October 9, 2015, the date  of the filing of the Second
Amended Complaint. Sosinavage v. Thomson, 2019 WL
494824, at *5 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2019). As the Court then
summarized: “Simply, for more than three years, Ms.
Cooper pursued a failure-to-hire case against the County
Defendants that she knew or should have known was factually
and legal frivolous, despite clear warning of precisely these
deficiencies in 2015.” Id. at *4.
Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2019 WL 1493226,
at *1 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2019). Furthermore, at the time that
Judge Simandle granted County Defendants' motion for
sanctions, Judge Simandle noted that “because
Plaintiff's attorney, Ms. Cooper, is a solo practitioner,
she may have limited financial resources from which to
compensate the County Defendants for the fees and expenses
they have incurred in this case.” Id.
Therefore, Judge Simandle
permit[ted] Ms. Cooper to submit an affidavit (under seal but
provided to Ms. O'Hearn as confidential information)
addressing her ability to pay, which the Court will consider
in determining the appropriate amount of reasonable fees and
expenses required as a deterrent to be awarded to the County
Defendants and paid by counsel for Plaintiff.
Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2019 WL 494824,
at *5 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2019). Judge Simandle ordered that any
such affidavit was due to the Court and to Defendant's
counsel within fourteen (14) days of the filing of the County
Defendants' fee petition. Id.
County Defendants filed their fee petition [Docket Item 225]
on February 22, 2019, which meant that any opposition or
financial hardship affidavit was due by March 8, 2019. On
February 25, 2019, Ms. Cooper requested a stay of the
deadlines in this case due to her obligations to prepare for
an impending trial in another case. (See Letter
[Docket Item 227].) County Defendants opposed this request.
(See Letter [Docket Item 228].) Judge Simandle then
denied Ms. Cooper's request for a stay of this case,
but granted her motion to enlarge the time to submit
opposition to the County Defendants' fee petition to
“the date which is fourteen (14) days following the
earlier of (a) the resolution of Civil No. 14-cv-5169 (RBK)
without trial, or (b) the completion of trial of that
case.” [Docket Item 229 at 3.] On March 7, 2019, the
Honorable Robert B. Kugler entered Judgment in that case and
cancelled the trial set for March 11, 2019. [Civ. No.
14-cv-5169, Docket Item 287.] As of March 8, 2019, Ms.
Cooper's opposition to the pending fee petition became
due on or before March 22, 2019, and Ms. Cooper was notified:
“There will be no further extensions of time granted
absent emergency.” [Docket Item 234.]
On March 11, 2019, Ms. Cooper filed a second letter
application seeking an extension of time to respond to the
County Defendants' fee petition. [Docket Item 235.] On
March 13, 2019, the Court denied Ms. Cooper's request,
Ms. Cooper has not remotely demonstrated good cause to
enlarge the deadline, let alone an emergency, and another
extension of time is not appropriate in these circumstances,
particularly in light of the prior extension of this deadline
and Ms. Cooper's repeated history of missing filing
[Docket Item 236 at 3.] As the Court stated in this Order,
“Plaintiff's opposition to the County
Defendants' pending application, if any, shall be filed
on or before March 22, 2019.”
[Id.] (emphasis in original).
Sosinavage v. Thomson, No. 14-3292, 2019 WL 1493226,
at *1-2 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2019). Judge Simandle then filed his
opinion granting County Defendants' fee petition on April
4, 2019, nearly two weeks after the March 22, 2019 deadline,
by which time Ms. Cooper had still not filed any papers in
opposition to the petition nor any financial hardship
affidavit. Id. at *2. Therefore, Judge Simandle
treated the petition as unopposed and found that the amount
requested by County Defendants, $89, 234.54, was
“reasonable and necessary to address and deter the
misconduct.” Id. at *3. Judge Simandle then
found that no factors were present ...