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Kraemer v. Grant County

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
892 F.2d 686 (7th Cir. 1990)


Mark D. Lawton, a recent law school graduate and new attorney, was contacted by Laura Kraemer (plaintiff) for representation in a suit against the sheriff of Grant County (defendant) and Bill and Betty Baker. Kraemer alleged that the sheriff and the Bakers had conspired to evict her from her rented home and steal her possessions. Before filing suit, Lawton had Kraemer write him a letter detailing the facts of her case. As a result of the letter, Lawton filed an administrative claim, which was denied. Lawton subsequently hired a private investigator to research Kraemer’s claims, but the investigator was unable to confirm or invalidate her story. Lawton went ahead with Kraemer’s suit, which survived a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6), but which was later dismissed on a motion for summary judgment. The sheriff and the Bakers also filed a motion to have Kraemer or Lawton pay their attorneys fees. The court found that an award against Lawton was appropriate, and he was sanctioned under Rule 11. Lawton appealed.

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