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Crawford v. First Wash. Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

July 23, 2015

GEORGE W. CRAWFORD, APPELLANT,
v.
FIRST WASHINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., APPELLEES

Argued May 14, 2015

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CAB-5890-07). (Hon. Gregory E. Jackson, Trial Judge).

Latif Doman for appellant.

David H. Cox, with whom James N. Markels, was on the brief, for appellees Adam Abrahams and First American Title Insurance Company.

Stephen E. Leach, with whom Stephen L. Neal, Jr., filed a statement in lieu of a brief, for appellees First Washington Insurance and Gerald Schaeffer, supporting appellees Adam Abrahams and First American Title Insurance Company.

Before GLICKMAN and BECKWITH, Associate Judges, and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Nebeker, Senior Judge

On April 15, 2013, the Honorable Gregory E. Jackson ordered that appellant

Page 38

George W. Crawford be conditionally incarcerated after being found to be in contempt for his failure to make a " good faith effort" to pay $123,257.50 in imposed sanctions. Appellant argues that the trial court erred--as a matter of law--when it incarcerated him on account of his failure to pay what amounts to a money judgment, attorneys' fees. We conclude that the appeal is moot, and dismiss it.

I.

At the outset, we recognize that only one order from the trial court is properly before this court: the April 15, 2013,[1] order to incarcerate appellant. All other appeals from this matter have either been previously adjudicated or are not properly before this court. We conduct our analysis accordingly.

A full recounting of the proceedings below and the underlying litigation is not necessary for adjudication or germane to our discussion. What follows is a condensed recitation of pertinent facts. Appellant and appellees[2] were embroiled in litigation relating to appellant's personal guaranty of two promissory notes executed to refinance two properties in the District of Columbia. On May 28, 2010, the trial court[3] dismissed appellant's motion to vacate a settlement agreement between the parties, and found it to be both " meritless" and " frivolous." The trial court found that contempt was not " an appropriate remedy" at the time, but nonetheless imposed $30,517.35 in sanctions pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 11. Appellant failed to pay the sanctions, and was found in contempt by the trial court on August 17, 2012.

Appellant continued to prove unwilling to pay, and his recalcitrant posture led the trial court to again hold him in contempt, and finally order that appellant be conditionally incarcerated for his repeated failure to satisfy, or make a good faith effort to satisfy the sanctions imposed by the trial court. The trial court also imposed $123,257.50 in " additional sanctions," and set a March 15, 2013, deadline for payment. At a December 21, 2012, hearing, appellant made a good-faith effort towards paying the $30,517.35 in sanctions, and he was released. Following his release, however, appellant made no " showing of good faith" and did not make a single payment toward the $123,257.50 in additional sanctions imposed. On April 15, 2013, the trial court found that appellant had made " no efforts whatsoever" to pay the additional sanctions and that he " never had any communication with . . . the [appellees]." The trial court ordered that appellant ...


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