The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. United States District Judge
ORDER (1) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; (2) GRANTING THE MOTION FOR ORDER DIRECTING ISSUANCE OF JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 74]; (3) FINDING MR. BENTSON IN CONTEMPT; AND (4) ENTERING JUDGMENT IN AGAINST MR. BENTSON. FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS
Before the Court is Defendants Linda Peterson, Victoria Taus and Leads Pace ("Defendants") Motion for Order Directing the Issuance of Judgment. (Def. Req. for Order Directing the Issuance of Judg.) Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler has issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court: (1) find Plaintiff's counsel James Bentson in contempt of court for violating court orders; (2) modify the judgment entered in this case on August 16, 2007 [doc. no. 76] to include the monetary sanctions against Mr. Bentson, or enter a judgment based on the sanctions order; and (3) report the (a) sanctions and (b) finding of contempt to the California State Bar Association. Mr. Bentson has not submitted objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, this Court ADOPTS the R&R, GRANTS the Motion for Order Directing Issuance of Judgment, FINDS Mr. Bentson incontempt, and ENTERS JUDGMENT for the Defendantsagainst Mr. Bentson in the amount of $4422.00.
The above-captioned action commenced on August 29, 2005 in the Superior Court of the State of California and was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1441(b). [Doc. No. 1.] Plaintiff is a "networking organization whose primary purpose is to provide an opportunity ... for business owners, professionals, sales people and managers seeking to begin or expand a business to get referrals to other professionals within the community." (Compl. at 2.)Defendants entered into contracts with Plaintiff to serve as its executive directors. (See Def. Mot. to Dismiss at 1.)
In August of 2005, Defendants resigned from their positions as executive directors for Plaintiff. (See Compl. at 4-5.) Upon resignation, Defendant Taus began to organize Defendant Leads Pace, a small business networking operation. (See Def.'s Supp. Mot. to Dismiss at 1.)Plaintifffiled suit against Defendants alleging breach of contractual duties, defamation, breach of fiduciary duties, unfair competition and various related causes of action. (See Compl. at 9-38.)
On August 30, 2006, Judge Adler issued a Notice and Order for Early Neutral Evaluation Conference ("the Conference") to be held on September 28, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. [See Doc. No. 57.] On the day of the Conference, Mr. Bentson arrived over an hour late without his client and fully unprepared to discuss his case. [Doc. No. 71.] Mr. Bentson's tardiness to the Conference caused Defendants and their counsel to miss their return flight to Northern California. (Id. at 2.) As a result, they had to wait in the airport for two-and-a-half hours. (Id.) During the Conference, Mr. Bentson advised Judge Adler that he thought he had been substituted out of the case, but that he would confirm the status of the case and his representation with his client . [See Doc. No. 61 at 2.] Judge Adler never received information from Plaintiff's counsel of a substitution or of Plaintiff's interest in pursuing the claims alleged in the complaint. (See Order Recommending Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal at 4-5.)
On October 10, 2006, Defendants submitted a Motion for Sanctions against the Plaintiff Leads Club, Inc. and Mr. Bentson for costs incurred from attending the Conference. (See Def. Mot. for Sanctions.) On January 24, 2007, Judge Adler issued an Order to Show Cause Why Sanctions Should Not be Imposed for Mr. Bentson's failure to comply with court orders. [Doc. No. 67 at 2.] In the Order, Judge Adler directed Mr. Bentson to appear at a hearing on March 19, 2007 and to submit a declaration explaining his failure to comply on or before March 12, 2007.
.) Mr. Bentson failed to appear at the hearing and failed to submit a declaration. (Id.)
As a result, on March 26, 2007, Judge Adler issued an Order Granting in Part Defendants' Motion for Sanctions against Mr. Bentson in the amount of $4422.00 to bepaid by April 25, 2007. [Doc. No. 71 at 5.] The sanctions were comprised of the attorney and transportation expenses incurred by Defendants in connection with their appearance at the Conference. (See id. at 3.)
On August 15, 2007, Defendants filed a Request for Order Directing Issuance of Judgment against Mr. Bentson in the amount of $4422.00 so that they may enforce the sanctions order under California's judgments laws. [Doc. No. 74 at 2.] According to Erin M. Adrian, counsel for Defendants, Mr. Bentson failed to pay the sanctions by April 25, 2007, and had not paid the sanctions as of August 14, 2007. (Id. at 3.) Ms. Adrian wrote to Mr. Bentson on June 7, 2007 and demanded that he pay the sanctions ordered by Judge Alder. Ms. Adrian received no response to her letter. (Id. at 3.)
On August 16, 2007, the Court entered a Judgment and Dismissal by Court Under Local Civil Rule 41.1 for Want of Prosecution. [See Doc. No. 76.] Under Rule 41.1(a), the court may dismiss an action for want of prosecution that has been pending for more than six months without proceeding or discovery. S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 41.1(a).
On September 17, 2007, Judge Adler issued an Order to Show Cause Why a Finding of Contempt Should Not be Recommended to the District Judge. In the Order, Judge Adler directed Mr. Bentson to appear at a hearing on October 1, 2007 and to submit a declaration explaining his failure to pay sanctions by September 26, 2007. [Doc. No. 77 at 2.] Mr. Bentson failed to appear at the hearing, and failed to submit a declaration. Mr. Bentson has not contacted ...