Update (February 9, 2018): We have covered Naca v. Macalester at some length and the conduct of Plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. Peter Nickitas. The way this case has been prosecuted might yield many useful practice pointers in how NOT to practice law in U.S. District Court.

The Court [(U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, D. Minn.)]…finds that Nickitas has unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied these proceedings and that Macalester should not have to bear the cost of his violations. Accordingly, the Court orders Nickitas to pay $1,000 in attorney’s fees to Macalester no later than March 9, 2018.

From our perspective, the Naca lawsuit has seemed extraordinarily weak from the get-go but Macalester College has been forced nevertheless for about two years now. The Court considers $1,000 “to be a reasonable estimate of the fees that Macalester has incurred as a direct result of Nickitas’s violations.”

We suspect that Macalester might estimate the number to be somewhat more than that but they might also have a broader view of the scope of Mr. Nickitas’ unreasonable and vexatious conduct.

Original post (August 18, 2017)(Peter “Extreme Caution” Nickitas Strikes Again, Gets a Spare This Time): Recurring Minnesota Litigator character, Peter Nickitas, originally received his moniker, “Extreme Caution,” from Avvo, the on-line legal services scam “marketplace”, but Avvo has changed its format.

Avvo no longer provides this warning for Mr. Nickitas. Avvo does, however, still refer to Mr. Nickitas’ four separate suspensions from the practice of law (two in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin). (These might be “doubles.” It is possible that the two states disciplined him reciprocally. In other words, four suspensions may have arisen from two violations.) Could it be that judges, courts, and ethics boards tire of disciplining particular lawyers after a while?

Mr. Troy Scheffler is a former debt collector who has filed many lawsuits against debt collectors in this district alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA). Represented by Mr. Nickitas, Mr. Scheffler brought an FDCPA class action against the Gurstel Law Firm (formerly Gurstel Chargo).

Notwithstanding “Scheffler’s argument made during the hearing on this matter [(presumably argued by his lawyer, Mr. Nickitas)] that Gurstel ‘subliminally commanded’ him to call the number provided by putting it in bold type,” you will not be surprised to read that Sr. U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty (D. Minn.) threw Scheffler’s case  out on summary judgment.

Judge Doty held that Scheffler’s telephone call to the Gurstel firm “was an unsubtle and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to provoke [a Gurstel employee] into committing an FDCPA violation.” Sound sanctionable to you?

Trying to set up a debt collector, trying to trick the debt collector into violating the law, and, when unsuccessful, suing the debt collector anyhow? A legal theory along the lines of original sin? Maybe the legal theory is that trying to collect a debt, by itself, should trigger liability?

The Gurstel firm brought a motion for sanctions against Messrs. Nickitas and Scheffler.

Judge Doty rejected that motion.

If one cannot have sanctions imposed in a case like this, when can you?

 

 

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