The order imposing sanctions is direct and to the point. The highlights:
Shortly after posting an article on several fees Mr. Shoemaker obtained in various Vaccine Injury Compensation Program claims, Shoemaker served Ms. Seidel with the subpoena at issue.The judge issuing this order is Magistrate Judge James Muirhead of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire.
The subpoena, as Ms. Seidel correctly summarizes:commands production of “all documents pertaining to the setup, financing, running, research, maintaining the website
http://www.neurodiversity.com” – including but not limited to material mentioning the plaintiffs – and the names of all persons “helping, paying or facilitating in any fashion” my endeavors. The subpoena demands copies of all of my communications concerning any issue which is included on my website, including communications with representatives of the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations, political action groups, profit or non-profit entities, journals, editorial boards, scientific boards, academic boards, medical licensing boards, any “religious groups (Muslim or otherwise), or individuals with religious affiliations,” and any other “concerned individuals.”
The subpoena is very broad. Ms. Seidel filed a timely and well-prepared motion to quash. Shoemaker interposed no objection. The record provides no information as to whether Shoemaker provided notice of the subpoenaed deposition to counsel for defendants.
I quashed the subpoena and ordered Mr. Shoemaker to show cause why he should not be sanctioned under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11. He has responded to that Order. Ms. Seidel has responded to his response.
Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate. If Shoemaker wanted to know if Ms. Seidel was in part supported by or provided information by Bayer, he could have inquired of Bayer or limited the Seidel subpoena to that information. Instead he issued the subpoena calling for production of documents and a deposition on the day before he stipulated to dismiss the underlying suit with prejudice. His failure to withdraw the subpoena when he clearly knew that suit was over is telling about his motives. His efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly.
I find that Clifford Shoemaker violated Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1) and Rule 45(c)(1). The 11(b)(1) violation may also violate Virginia’s Rules of Professional Conduct which provide in part:
(1) Preamble: A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.
(2) Rule 3.1: A lawyer shall not assert or controvert an issue therein unless there is a basis for doing so which is not frivolous . . .
Comment . The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client’s cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. (emphasis added).
Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent.
The Clerk of Court is directed to forward a certified copy of this order, the motion to quash, the show cause order, and the response of Shoemaker and Seidel to the appropriate professional conduct committee of the Virginia State Bar in order that it may be made aware of Clifford J. Shoemaker’s conduct and so that those authorities may take whatever action they deem appropriate.
I would have liked to see some financial penalties, but that would be my only quibble.