United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ANNE R. GEORGE, Plaintiff,
LONNA L. JACKSON Defendants,
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR CONTEMPT AND
BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter involves the allegation by Plaintiff Ann R. George,
that her adult daughter, Defendant Lonna L. Jackson,
misappropriated funds from Ms. George while acting as Ms.
George's attorney-in-fact. In a previous order, this
Court granted a third request by Defendant for an extension
of time to produce written discovery and a Court-ordered
accounting. Dkt. No. 45. The Court set the deadline for the
production of these materials for August 23, 2019 but warned
that "NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED AND
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS ORDER WILL RESULT IN
SANCTIONS." Id. at 3 (emphasis in
original). August 23 has come and gone and the parties have
informed the Court that Defendant has still not fully
complied with the Court's order. As such, the Court will
grant Plaintiffs motion for contempt and sanctions. Dkt. No.
33. The reasoning for the Court's decision follows.
stated above, the underlying issue involves a claim by
Plaintiff that her daughter, Defendant, misappropriated funds
while serving as Plaintiffs attorney-in-fact.
to Plaintiffs request, this Court ordered Defendant to
provide an accounting of all of the financial transactions
she performed while serving as Plaintiffs attorney-in-fact.
Dkt. No. 27. The accounting was to be produced no later than
June 4, 2019 and the Court warned that failure to comply
would "result in a finding of contempt and
sanctions." Id. at 2.
4, Defendant moved for an extension of time to produce the
accounting, Dkt. No. 30, and Plaintiff opposed noting that
the request violated the Court's standing order that such
motions be made three business days before expiration of the
relevant deadline, Dkt. No. 31 at 2 (citing Dkt. No. 24 at
4). The Court granted the extension to June 25, 2019. Dkt.
25, however, came and went with no production of the
accounting. On June 27, Plaintiff moved for contempt and
sanctions for Defendant's failure to produce the
accounting. Dkt. No. 33. Defendant, in addition to failing to
produce the accounting, failed to respond to the motion for
sanctions. The Court scheduled a telephonic hearing to take
place on August 2, 2019. Dkt. No. 36.
the telephonic hearing, Plaintiffs counsel informed the Court
that Defendant had, to that date, neither produced the
required accounting nor any discovery requested by Plaintiff.
Dkt. No. 36. Defendant's counsel provided no
justification for Defendant's failure to produce the
accounting, discovery, or her failure to respond to the
motion for contempt and sanctions. The Court granted
Plaintiffs reiterated motion to compel production and gave
Plaintiff until August 9 to reply, a date by which
Defendant's counsel assured the Court that production
would be feasible.
9 came and went with no production. On August 12, Plaintiff
provided notice of Defendant's continued failure to
comply with this Court's orders. In response, the actual
deadline having already passed, Defendant for a second time
untimely moved for an extension of time. Dkt. No. 41. The
Court, again, granted the motion for production this time no
later than August 23, 2019, but specifically warned that
"NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED AND
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS ORDER WILL RESULT IN
SANCTIONS." Dkt. No. 44 at 3 (emphasis in
August 26, 2019, Plaintiff informed the Court that Defendant
had not yet produced either the requested discovery nor the
accounting. Dkt. No. 46. The Court ordered Defendant to
respond no later than 5:00 pm on August 26, 2019. At 4:55 pm
Defendant responded but provided no good cause for her
failure to comply with the Court's multiple orders. Dkt.
August 28 the Court ordered the parties to provide briefing
on their progress. Dkt. No. 49. Along with her response to
the Court's order, Defendant provided the written
discovery requested by Plaintiff and, as such, Plaintiff has
withdrawn her motion for contempt and sanctions as to the
failure to provide written discovery. Dkt. No. 54 at 1 n.1.
Defendant also provided some bank records related to the
accounting, Dkt. No. 52 at 2, but Plaintiff informs the Court
that the records are incomplete and do not constitute a full
accounting. Dkt. No. 54 at 2-3. Defendant states that her
counsel "has been actively and thoroughly pursuing the
bank records of Defendant and is currently still awaiting
bank records from Wells Fargo and other relevant
institutions." Dkt. No. 52 at 1-2; see also
Dkt. No. 53 (declaration of defense counsel outlining recent
efforts to obtain bank records from Wells
have inherent power to enforce compliance with their lawful
orders through civil contempt." Spallone v. United
States,493 U.S. 265, 276 (1990) (quoting Shillitani
v. United States,384 U.S. 364, 370 (1966)); see
also Mitchell Repair Info. Co., LLC v. Rutchey, No.
08-500, 2009 WL 10677092, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 8, 2009).
Civil contempt, in turn, "is a refusal to do an act the
court has ordered" Bingman v. Ward, 100 F.3d
653, 655 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting In re Sequoia Auto
Brokers Ltd., Inc.,827 F.2d 1281, 1283 n.1 (9th Cir.
1987)). A district court "has 'wide latitude in
determining whether there has been a contemptuous defiance of