Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Good Faith Is No Defense to Citation for Civil Contempt If Violation of Injunction Is Proved by Clear and Convincing Evidence

N.L.R.B v. Flores, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 26981 (1st Cir. Aug. 6, 2012) (R&R):

The party seeking an order of civil contempt must demonstrate by clear and convincing proof that the opposing party has violated the court's injunctive decree. Goya Foods, 290 F.3d at 77; Project B.A.S.I.C. v. Kemp, 947 F.2d 11, 16 (1st Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the violation need not be willful to trigger contempt sanctions, nor must the plaintiff prove that the defendant violated the court's order in bad faith. McComb v. Jacksonville Paper, Co., 336 U.S. 187, 191 (1949); Goya Foods, 290 F.3d at 76 ("The law is firmly established in this circuit that good faith is not a defense to civil contempt."). As the Supreme Court stated in McComb:

The absence of willfulness does not relieve from civil contempt. Civil as distinguished from criminal contempt is a sanction to enforce compliance with an order of the court or to compensate for losses or damages sustained by reason of noncompliance . . . . Since the purpose is remedial, it matters not with what intent the defendant did the prohibited act . . . . An act does not cease to be a violation of a law and of a decree merely because it may have been done innocently. The force and vitality of judicial decrees derive from more robust sanctions. And the grant or withholding of remedial relief is not wholly discretionary with the judge. . . . The private or public rights that the decree sought to protect are an important measure of the remedy.

336 U.S. at 191.

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