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RRW Legacy Management Group, Inc. v. Walker

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 17, 2017

RRW LEGACY MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CAMPBELL WALKER, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF CAMPBELL INVESTMENT COMPANY'S SECOND MOTION FOR CONTEMPT

          MARSHA J. PECHMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 6, 2017, this Court entered an order finding Defendant Campbell Walker in contempt of the Court's orders regarding post-judgment discovery and ordered him to pay to the Clerk of Court $1, 000 per day from the date of the order until Mr. Walker complied with his post-judgment discovery obligations. Dkt. No. 250.

         Plaintiff Campbell Investment Company (“CIC”) is back before the Court to (1) report that the contempt sanctions have been ineffective in obtaining Defendant's cooperation in post-judgment discovery and (2) request further sanctions, not only against Defendant but against his counsel of record. Dkt. No. 257. The Court, upon review of the motion, defense counsel's response (Dkt. No. 259) and CIC's reply (Dkt. No. 261), rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff CIC's request for sanctions against Defendant's counsel is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, as a sanction for Defendant's ongoing contempt of this Court's orders to participate in post-judgment discovery, and in order to compel his future compliance with his post-judgment obligations, Campbell Walker be arrested and that upon his arrest he be incarcerated for such period of time as is necessary to secure both his appearance at a deposition to be conducted by Plaintiffs and his compliance with Plaintiff's Requests for Production of Documents.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the sanctions previously assessed against Defendant for his contempt remain in place (i.e., that he continue to accumulate a fine of $1, 000 per day until his compliance with his post-judgment obligations is obtained).

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's counsel of record confirm delivery and receipt of this order by Defendant within 30 days of its entry.

         Discussion

         Appropriate sanctions for Defendant's contempt

         Courts possess the ‘“inherent power to enforce compliance with their lawful orders through civil contempt.'” Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364, 370 (1966). Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2) authorizes sanctions of varying degrees of severity. Arrest is appropriate as a civil contempt sanction if its purpose is not punitive but rather to compel the contemnor to perform the acts ordered by the court. Hicks v. Feiock, 485 U.S. 624, 631-34 (1988); see also Scioto Constr'n, Inc. v. Morris, 2007 WL 1656222 at *3 (E.D.Tenn. June 7, 2007)(collecting cases ordering a civil contemnor be arrested and held until compliance with post-judgment interrogatories is obtained).

         The Court finds that Defendant has been properly noticed regarding his post-judgment obligations and the orders of this Court that he provide post-judgment discovery and make himself available to post-judgment deposition. See Dkt. No. 260, Declaration of Duncan, ¶¶ 4, 6. The Court further finds that Defendant has deliberately chosen to ignore his obligations and the Court's orders. Id. at ¶ 5. It is the conclusion of the Court that (based on 3 months of non-compliance in the face of mounting contempt fines) increasing the size of the monetary sanctions for his contempt is unlikely to compel Defendant to comply. The other sanctions contained in the (non-exhaustive) list referenced in Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2) - related to certain pretrial penalties -- would be unhelpful since Plaintiffs have already obtained a judgment against Defendant. An arrest order, while admittedly severe, is the only remaining effective avenue of securing Defendant's compliance.

         Request for contempt finding against Defendant's counsel

         The Court declines to enter any finding of contempt against Defendant's counsel, and takes this opportunity to clarify the limited role which was intended at the time that the Court denied defense counsel's request to withdraw from representation. In the order denying that request, the Court stated:

The fact is that defense counsel remain the only reliable conduit for communicating with Defendant. The further fact is that his choice to retain HCMP as appellate counsel (but not counsel for the post-judgment proceedings at this level) means that the Court has some assurance that HCMP knows how to contact Defendant and has his attention. The Court calls on defense counsel, as officers of the court, to assist in transmitting the legitimate requests ...

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