Plaintiff attorney in snoball lawsuit has history of sanctions

Alejandro de los Rios Jun. 30, 2011, 9:59am


The lead plaintiff lawyer who filed a 148-page federal racketeering suit was sanctioned as recently as 2009 for "abuse of the judicial process" for a similar lawsuit and appeal.

New Orleans attorney Mark Andrews filed a lawsuit June 24 against a snoball – the term for New Orleans shaved ice – vendor, claiming violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Court documents show that in 2009, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier reprimanded Andrews and charged him double attorney's fees for a filing a frivolous RICO lawsuit.

During the dismissal hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Barbier called Andrew's case "totally baseless."

"This has got to stop," Barbier said of Andrews' actions, according to court transcripts.

"And I strongly suggest that you do a lot more research before you start filings things in federal court, again."

In that lawsuit, Andrews alleged that an opposing attorney had violated RICO law through misrepresentation of a set of clients that Andrews came to represent.

After the suit was dismissed, the defendant filed and was granted a motion for sanctions.

Barbier stated that the sanctions were "especially appropriate in light of the two-year history vexatious litigation ... which has already nearly resulted in sanctions," court transcripts show.

Andrews appealed the decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also found the sanctions appropriate.

According to court documents, the Fifth Circuit ruled that Andrews had been "on notice that the overruling of objections to remand was an obvious result when they were unable to support their argument at the district court."

"This appeal is frivolous," the Fifth Circuit ruled.

Andrews' most recent suit claims snoball vendor SnoWizard violated RICO by gaming market prices and fraudulently claiming patents on the ice-shaving machine's components parts.

SnoWizard is "trying to assert and establish bogus intellectual property rights - all traceable to the fundamental falsehood that SnoWizard invented ... the whole "industry" - and that everybody else is just a copying, infringing pirate."

The suit references litigation from 1984 in which SnoWizard sued Eiseman Products, claiming a patent on a wide array of snoball related products. A federal judge ruled against SnoWizard and the decision was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1986.

The suit states that the "whole SnoWizard ice-shaving machine was never patented. SnoWizard's first owner filed a patent that was denied in 1942 and the prominent 'patent pending' on the door of the ice-shaving machine after 1942 was a false marking."

The false patents also extend to a door hinge, the machine's leg design and several custom flavors like "King Cake," "Cajun Red Hot" and "Buttered Popcorn."

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment "of the invalidity and unenforceability of Defendant SnoWizard's purported trademark rights."

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