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International Longshoremen's Association Local 1982 v. Midwest Terminals of Toledo International, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

February 16, 2018

International Longshoremen's Association Local 1982, Plaintiff
v.
Midwest Terminals of Toledo International, Inc., Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge.

         This matter is before me on the Midwest Terminals' motion to enforce this Court's order, for an Order to Show Cause why Plaintiff, Local 1982, should not be found in contempt of the June 21, 2017 mandate issued by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and a request for sanctions. (Doc. No. 57)

         Local 1982 filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc. No. 58) and Midwest Terminals submitted its reply. (Doc. No. 59).

         I. Brief Background

         This case was filed on June 1, 2012. The history of this litigation is well known to the parties, myself, and the Court of Appeals, which allows me to dispense with a lengthy recitation of history. See Local 1982, Intern. Longshoremen's Ass'n v. Midwest Terminals of Toledo, Intern., Inc., Case No. 16-4004, 694 Fed.Appx. 985 (6th Cir. May 30, 2017); Local 1982, Intern. Longshoremen's Ass'n v. Midwest Terminals of Toledo, Intern., Inc., No. 13-3654, 560 Fed.Appx. 529 (6th Cir.), cert, denied, 135 S.Ct. 167 (2014).

         In its briefing, Midwest spends considerable time on the history between the two parties, beginning in January 19, 2017 through June 12, 2017. Midwest claims these "events" supports its position that Local 1982 refused to abide by the pending Orders and Mandates. As a result, Midwest seeks a show cause order why Local 1982 should not be found in contempt and also requests sanctions.

         II. Motion For Civil Contempt

         A party seeking an order of civil contempt must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent violated the Court's prior order. Glover v. Johnson, 138 F.3d 229, 244 (6th Cir. 1998). A primary purpose of civil contempt sanctions is to enforce compliance with a court order. See Downey v. Clauder, 30 F.3d 681, 685 (6th Cir. 1994).

         The Court must find that the Defendants “violated a definite and specific order of the court requiring [them] to perform or refrain from performing a particular act or acts with knowledge of the court's order.” Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Crowley, 74 F.3d 716, 720 (6th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). The factors the movant must establish include: “(1) the order clearly and unambiguously imposed an obligation on the party; (2) proof of the party's noncompliance with the order was clear and convincing; and (3) the party did not diligently attempt to comply with the order.” McAlpin v. Lexington 76 Auto Truck Stop, Inc., 229 F.3d 491, 505 (6th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).

         In a civil contempt proceeding, unlike a criminal proceeding, intent is irrelevant and “willfulness is not an element of civil contempt.” Rolex, 74 F.3d at 720. Once the movant makes a prima facie showing of the violation, it becomes the respondent's burden to prove an inability to comply as follows:

[T]he test is not whether defendants made a good faith effort at compliance but whether “the defendants took all reasonable steps within their power to comply with the court's order.

Glover, 138 F.3d at 243 citing Glover v. Johnson, 934 F.2d 703, 708 (6th Cir. 1991). Good faith is not a defense in a civil contempt action. The respondent can assert an inability to comply, but must demonstrate “categorically and in detail” why they did not comply with the court's order. Id.

         Where the court finds that sanctions are appropriate, they may be imposed “solely to coerce future compliance with the court's order or to compensate for injuries resulting from noncompliance.” N.L.R.B. v. Howard Baer, Inc., 99 F.3d 1139, 1996 WL 490347, *17 (6th Cir. 1996). The court's focus is prospective in nature and must, therefore, “exercise the least possible power adequate to the proposed end.” Id. citing Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364, 379 (1966).

         III. ...


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