United States District Court, D. Delaware
DR. LAKSHMI ARUNACHALAM, Plaintiff,
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed
the dismissal of all claims in this case. Arunachalam v.
IBM, No. 18-2105 (decided Jan. 28, 2019). More recently,
the Court of Appeals denied Plaintiffs petition for mandamus
relief in this case. In re Arunachalam, No. 19-112
(decided March 27, 2019).
have various pending motions before me. Three of them (D.I.
131, 135, 136) are for attorneys' fees and an injunction
against Plaintiff filing "any further filings [against
JPMorgan] in the District of Delaware relating to the
subject-matter of the above-captioned action, including any
new pleadings, absent leave of Court" (D.I. 135-1), and
against Plaintiff "directly or indirectly commencing
litigation in the District of Delaware that in any way
relates to SAP [or IBM], its directors, officers,
stockholders, custodians, employees, subsidiaries and/or
affiliates [etc.]" (D.I. 130-1; D.I. 136-1).
terms of the pre-filing injunction, the Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit stated, "This circuit has concluded
that district courts may issue an injunction requiring a
litigant who has repeatedly filed complaints alleging claims
that have already been fully litigated to receive court
approval before filing further complaints." In re
Packer Ave. Assocs., 884 F.2d 745, 747 (3d Cir. 1989).
Such injunctions "should be narrowly tailored and rarely
issued." Id. at 748. I do not think the SAP or
IBM proposals are narrowly tailored, and I would deny them on
that basis alone. More significantly, though, Plaintiffs
vexatiousness in Delaware is, for the most part, not that she
files complaints seeking to relitigate issues that she has
already lost, but that she files repetitive and vexatious
motions and appeals on issues that she has already lost. The
instant case, for example, was filed nearly three years ago.
At its core against IBM was an asserted patent, which, at the
time, was presumed valid. She has not filed another case in
Delaware since, and the last patent case she filed before
that (in the corporate form of Pi-Net International) was
nearly five years ago. Further, I believe the imposition of
monetary sanctions might be as effective in discouraging
am going to deny the pre-filing injunction part of the three
seeks attorneys' fees for two motions and a response it
filed, under the Court's inherent authority. (D.I. 131 at
1). SAP seeks attorneys' fees for its briefing in
relation to the motion to dismiss the racketeering claims.
(D.I. 138 at 2). SAP says such fees should be ordered because
Plaintiff violated court orders and has engaged in vexatious
litigation. JPMorgan seeks its fees in defending this action,
relying upon the Court's inherent authority. (D.I. 137 at
filed one brief in response to these three motions and three
other motions. (D.I. 145). It is not very helpful, as the
main point it makes is that "[e]ach and every one of the
Defendants [including Chief Judge Stark and me] committed
multiple overt federal [criminal] offenses."
(Id. at 5, 6-13, 16-17). Most of the rest of it is
just a rehash of the arguments she has made before in this
case, all of which have been previously addressed by me or by
the Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs entire argument on the
attorneys' fees issue in her Answering Brief is,
"Judge Andrews aided and abetted corporate
infringers' violations of RICO statutes; defending,
infringers in breach of public contract." (D.I. 145 at
17). In Plaintiffs Sur-reply Brief, she references her
"(patently obvious and clearly and convincingly
evidenced) RICO, patent infringement and other claims."
(D.I. 153 at 6). She further states, "Continually
repeating the meme 'vexatious' is not convincing and
does not make it so. The epithet is used to hide their lack
of substantive responses to unequivocally substantive
evidence previously provided that proves the IBM Eclipse
Foundation conspiracy and racketeering." (Id.
has long been understood that certain implied powers must
necessarily result to our Courts of justice from the nature
of their institution, powers which cannot be dispensed with
in a Court, because they are necessary to the exercise of all
others." Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32,
43 (1991) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).
Therefore, courts are "vested, by their very creation,
with power to impose silence, respect, and decorum, in their
presence, and submission to their lawful mandates."
Id. The court's "power reaches both conduct
before the court and that beyond the court's
confines" as the underlying purpose of the Court's
power is to stem "disobedience to the orders of the
Judiciary, regardless of whether such disobedience interfered
with the conduct of trial." Id. at 44 (internal
brackets and quotation marks omitted). Furthermore, a court
"may assess attorney's fees when a party has acted
in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive
reasons." Chambers, 501 U.S. at 45-46 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Third Circuit has held that:
Because of their very potency, inherent powers must be
exercised with restraint and discretion. A primary aspect of
a district court's discretion is the ability to fashion
an appropriate sanction for conduct which abuses the judicial
process. Thus, a district court must ensure that there is an
adequate factual predicate for flexing its substantial muscle
under its inherent powers, and must also ensure that the
sanction is tailored to address the harm identified. In
exercising its discretion under its inherent powers, the
court should be guided by the same considerations that guide
it in the imposition of sanctions under the Federal Rules.
First, the court must consider the conduct at issue and
explain why the conduct warrants sanction. If an attorney,
rather than a client, is at fault, the sanction should
ordinarily target the culpable attorney.
Republic of Philippines v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp.,
43 F.3d 65, 74 (3d Cir.1994).
Defendants SAP and JPMorgan seek their fees in defending
against a baseless racketeering lawsuit. IBM seeks fees for
one motion relating to the racketeering lawsuit and for two
other pleadings. I understand that under some circumstances,
I could award fees against a pro se plaintiff for
filing legally insufficient pleadings. I do not like
sanctioning a pro se litigant (and I
believe I have only done so on rare occasion in seven years
as a judge), but Plaintiff is a good candidate for such
consideration. She is a prodigious litigant who has filed,
according to the Northern District of California, 89 cases.
Arunachalam v. Apple, No. 5:18-cv- 1250-EJD, D.I.
214 at 2 n.l (N.D. Cal. Oct. 16, 2108). In a non-patent case,
she filed eight motions to recuse, to disqualify, or to
reconsider motions to recuse or disqualify.
Arunachalam v. Pazuniak, No. 15-259, D.I.
166 (describing seven motions), D.I. 181 (eighth) (D.Del.). I
note the repetitive motions for recusal, with no valid basis,
in this case. (D.I. 40, 62, 83, 85, 97). She is abusive,
regularly accusing just about all the judges handling her
cases of treason and corruption, and that there is a vast
conspiracy to invalidate her patents. When she had counsel,
the relationships ended badly. See WebXChange Inc. v.
Dell Inc., 2011 WL 6328211, *3 (D.Del. Dec. 15, 2011)
("[Arunachalam] is a difficult personality who has
clashed with multiple well- respected attorneys and law
firms, . . . and is not good about following the directions
of the Court").
JPMorgan and SAP, I stated in ruling on the original round of
motions to dismiss, "the only factual allegations in the
twenty-seven pages of the amended complaint against SAP and
J.P. MorganChase concern why the Court has personal
jurisdiction over them . .., that they 'are using
Plaintiffs patented Web applications on a Web browser[,
which] is mission critical to how [they] conduct their
business and operations today on the Web,' . . . and that
they have not licensed the '506 patent." (D.I. 89 at
4). I permitted Plaintiff to file a motion for leave to file
an amended complaint, but when her motion did not comply with
the Local Rules (which I had warned her about) and did not
cure the pleading deficiencies of the earlier complaint, I
denied her motion. (D.I. 103 at 2). I noted that the failure
to comply with the Local Rule "can only be considered to
be willful and in bad faith." (Id.).
IBM, perhaps I should grant its motion in full, but I am
going to exercise my discretion and only grant the portion of
the motion relating to Arunachalam's pointless litigation
relating to the "two other pleadings." IBM
identifies that after Plaintiffs patent was invalidated by
the PTAB, and the time for appeal had run, she still opposed
IBM's motion to dismiss. (D.I. 131 at 4-5). Then, after I
had dismissed Plaintiffs patent claim, she filed a baseless
motion to alter or amend a judgment. (D.I. 118; see
D.I. 131 at 5). She did not have a leg to stand on, yet still
she made IBM file the pleadings to resolve the case. That is
vexatious conduct. In terms of IBM's request for fees
relating to the motion to dismiss, my thinking is that
Arunachalam had a patent that she could assert against IBM,
and some history with them that made her racketeering suit
against them a little more plausible if nevertheless still
not even close to stating a colorable complaint. I think the
monetary sanctions appear to be a reasonable response to her
will grant-in-part and deny-in part the motions for
attorneys' fees and prefiling ...