United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
DARREN MALLOY HEKKING and SHAUN EGAN HEKKING, on behalf of Himself and on behalf of C.H. and B.H., Plaintiffs,
CRAIG ANTONY HEKKING and MOLLY DURANT HEKKING, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICIA A. SULLIVAN, United States Magistrate Judge
the Court had already scheduled a hearing to address
Plaintiffs' potential breach of its Amended Order (ECF
No. 262) banning further efforts to sell the “Raymond
Weil Watch, ”Defendants Craig and Molly
Hekking filed a motion for injunctive relief,
contempt and sanctions, which sought to replow the same
ground. ECF No. 264. The motion has been referred to me
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
recommend that it be denied.
a bench trial in this family dispute over three brothers'
inheritance from their father and step-mother, the Court
wrote a decision that is scathingly critical of Defendants
and awarded Plaintiffs judgment in the amount of $2, 169,
052. Hekking v. Hekking, C.A. No. 14-295-ML, 2016 WL
3093448 (D.R.I. June 1, 2016); ECF No. 174. After Defendants
made no effort to satisfy the judgment, Plaintiffs initiated
post judgment collection efforts, resulting in the seizure
from Defendants' home of a mix of estate and personal
assets. After months passed and almost nothing had been sold,
in the spring of 2018, the Court sua sponte held a
hearing to develop a protocol for reducing the judgment in
light of the seizure and permitting Defendants to buy back
certain items. One item - the Raymond Weil Watch - was
afforded special treatment: the Court ordered that it must be
retained for a period of sixty-eight days, during which
Defendants could purchase it for $100 plus shipping and any
insurance. ECF No. 262. However, as credibly represented by
counsel for Plaintiffs, after the hearing held on July 6,
2018, counsel were confused by the complexity of what was
contemplated by the Court and mistakenly thought the Watch was
subject to the same protocol applicable to all other
property, as to which sales efforts could continue.
the July 6, 2018, hearing, at the Court's request,
Plaintiffs submitted a draft Order, which the Court did not
adopt because, among other matters, it was not accurate with
respect to the Raymond Weil Watch. Meanwhile, Plaintiffs'
counsel (mistakenly) advised their clients that they could
continue to try to sell all of the seized property, including
the Raymond Weil Watch. By the time the Court's Amended
Order issued on July 26, 2018, setting out in crystal clear
terms that the Watch was not to be sold, Plaintiffs had
already sold it, eliminating the opportunity for Defendants
to buy it back. With some credibility, Defendants argue that
the sale of this one item was done to inflict “as much
stress, [e]motion and emotional impact upon the Defendants as
possible, particularly upon Molly Hekking[.]” ECF No.
264 at 6-7.
the Court received Plaintiffs' monthly accounting, which
disclosed the sale of the Raymond Weil Watch, ECF No. 263, it
sua sponte scheduled a hearing to address that
issue, as well as the failure of Defendants to meet and
confer about the other matters pertaining to the Amended
Order. One day later, Defendants filed the pending motion.
September 27, 2018, hearing, the Court heard from both sides
regarding the Raymond Weil Watch and how it came to be sold.
Following the hearing, the Court issued a Supplement to
Amended Order (ECF No. 269), which finds that Defendants
failed to abide by the Court's Order requiring them to
meet and confer, while Plaintiffs failed to abide by the
Court's Order barring sale of the Raymond Weil Watch. The
solution to both matters was addressed in the Supplement.
Id. at 2.
important issue arose at the September 27, 2018, hearing.
Counsel for Plaintiffs advised the Court that Molly had filed
for personal bankruptcy and they did not know whether the
bankruptcy case's automatic stay might impact either her
ability to prosecute the motion for injunctive relief or the
Court's authority to address the motion as to her. To
allow time to sort through this issue, the Court acknowledged
the pendency of the instant motion for injunctive relief,
contempt and sanctions, but took it under advisement. Molly
was ordered to make a filing (with assistance from her
bankruptcy attorney) on “the degree to which the Court
may proceed with the pending motion as to her
specifically.” Text Order of September 28, 2018. After
conferring directly with Molly about what would be realistic
for her, the Court set a deadline for such a filing - October
22, 2018. That date came and went, but Molly has completely
ignored the Court's Order.
entitled their motion, “Defendants Motion for
Injunctive Relief and a Finding of Contempt, with Sanctions,
Against the Plaintiffs.” ECF No. 264 at 1. It is
focused on Plaintiffs' failure to comply with the
Court's prohibition on selling the Raymond Weil Watch and
alleges that Plaintiffs' failure to comply amounts to
contempt, as well as that Plaintiffs' filing of their
proposed Order (which the Court rejected) amounts to a
violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. As a sanction, Defendants ask
the Court to enjoin any further sales of the property and to
order that all property be returned to Defendants, to order
that a replacement of the Raymond Weil Watch be procured, as
well as to impose other sanctions as the Court may deem
necessary. Defendants also replay the allegations of fraud
and perjury by Plaintiff Shaun, which the Court already
rejected. ECF No. 245, adopted by Text Order of Oct. 12,
injunction is an exercise of a court's equitable
authority, to be ordered only after taking into account all
of the circumstances that bear on the need for prospective
relief.” Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700, 714
(2010). “Equitable relief is not granted as a matter of
course, ” id., and injunctions in particular
should be used sparingly due to their potential scope and
duration. Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561
U.S. 139, 165 (2010) (“An injunction is a drastic and
extraordinary remedy[.]”). Civil contempt orders may
issue if, “the moving party establishes by clear and
convincing evidence that the alleged contemnor violated [an]
order despite clear and unambiguous notice of the order and
the ability to comply with it.” AngioDynamics, Inc.
v. Biolitec AG, 780 F.3d 420, 426 (1st Cir. 2015).
“In addition to nudging a party to comply with a past
court order, a district court may also utilize sanctions to
compensate the complainant for harms suffered as a result of
the contempt and to reinforce the court's own
authority.” Id. Finally, sanctions under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b) may be imposed on an attorney who has
signed and filed a paper in the court for an improper purpose
or that is not warranted in law or fact.
Proposed Findings of ...