United States District Court, District of Columbia
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff,
LUIS IVAN POBLETE, et al., Defendants.
A. HOWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
defendant, Luis Ivan Poblete, lost his title to commercial
real property located at 1921 Rosedale Street N.E.,
Washington, D.C. (the “Property”), through a
foreclosure action in 2010 by the plaintiff, U.S. Bank
National Association, but Poblete has continued to engage in
actions designed to cloud title to his former property, in
violation of a clear and unambiguous order entered in this
case to cease such activity. See Order, dated Feb.
14, 2017, at 2, ECF No. 51 (“Feb. 2017 Order”)
(enjoining “Poblete and any persons or entities acting
at his behest” from, inter alia, “(1)
recording or attempting to record any documents relating to
the real property located at 1921 Rosedale Street N.E.,
Washington, D.C. (the ‘Property') with the District
of Columbia Recorder of Deeds or any other governmental body
that would accept such documents, (2) making any claim
whatsoever to any right, title or interest in the Property,
including any claim to possession, (3) entering the Property,
and (4) interfering with the right of the plaintiff and/or
its successors in interest to quiet enjoyment of the
Property”). The plaintiff now moves to hold Poblete in
civil contempt, Pl.'s Mot. Civ. Contempt (“Mot.
Contempt”), ECF No. 63, which sanction is expressly
authorized for a “disobedient party” under Rule
70(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon
consideration of the plaintiff's motion and accompanying
exhibits, Poblete's persistent history over a period of
years of challenging plaintiff's title to the Property,
see U.S. Bank N.A. v. Poblete, No. 15-cv-312 (BAH),
2016 WL 1089217, at **1-4 (D.D.C. Mar. 18, 2016) (describing
Poblete's actions prompting multiple lawsuits to clear
title to the Property), as well as the Poblete's
obfuscating response to the instant motion, and the record as
a whole, the motion is granted.
factual and procedural background of Poblete's efforts to
retain title to the Property has been exhaustively summarized
in prior decisions and will not be repeated here. See
generally U.S. Bank N.A. v. Poblete, No. 15-cv-312
(BAH), 2017 WL 598471 (D.D.C. Feb. 14, 2017);
Poblete, 2016 WL 1089217. Pertinent to the instant
motion, the order entered on February 14, 2017, against all
defendants became final on April 6, 2017. See Order,
dated Apr. 6, 2017, ECF No. 58. As noted, this February 2017
Order enjoined the defendants from recording documents with
the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds relating to the
Property or from making a claim of any interest in the
Property. Feb. 2017 Order at 2.
the Court's February 2017 Order, on April 12, 2017,
Poblete caused a document styled as a “UCC Financing
Statement” bearing “Doc. # 2017040352” to
be recorded with the Recorder of Deeds. Mot. Contempt, Ex. 1,
UCC Financing Statement (“Financing Statement”),
ECF No. 63-1. The Financing Statement purported to provide
“public notice by Grantor [that] he is the FREE and
CLEAR owner and holder of all rights, title, [and]
interest” in the property, identifying the
“Grantor” as a “he” and asserting
that “LUIS IVAN POBLETE TRUST EIN#98-6084XX has
COLLATERAL INVERSTMENT [sic] OF $300, 000.00” in the
property and was a secured creditor with respect to the
property. Id. at 1.
April 13, 2017, the plaintiff's counsel, Aaron D. Neal,
contacted Poblete via mail and email to remind Poblete of his
obligations under the February 2017 Order and demand that
Poblete terminate the Financing Statement. Mot. Contempt, Ex.
2, Letter from Plaintiff's Counsel to Poblete (Apr. 13,
2017) at 1, ECF No. 63-2; Mot. Contempt, Ex. 3, Email
Exchange Between Plaintiff's Counsel and Poblete at 2-3,
ECF No. 63-3. On May 16, 2017, the plaintiff's counsel
contacted Poblete by email once again to demand that Poblete
terminate the Financing Statement. Id. at 1. The
plaintiff's counsel received a response, sent from
Poblete's email address, from a person purporting to be
Poblete's assistant, indicating that Poblete would
respond by certified mail. Id.
23, 2017, the plaintiff moved for an order to show cause why
the defendants should not be held in civil contempt, Mot.
Contempt, which motion was granted on June 1, 2017, Minute
Order, dated June 1, 2017 (“Show-Cause Order”).
On June 12, 2017, Poblete filed a “Response to Order
Dated 1 June 2017, ” stating the following two
sentences: “COMES NOW, Poblete, Luis Ivan, a Private
American National citizen of the united [sic] States of
America who privately resides in a privately domicile outside
of a Federal District in a non-military private estate
located outside a Federal District not subject to the
jurisdiction of the ‘United States'. I am an
American and not a Corporation.” Defs.' Resp.
Show-Cause Order at 1 (“Defs.' Resp.”), ECF
No. 64. This filing had two attachments purporting to be a
claim against the plaintiff's counsel for “Denial
of Rights Under Color of Law, ” id., Ex. A,
ECF No. 64, and a “Sworn Affidavit of Fact Conditional
Acceptance of Proof of Claim, ” id., Ex. B,
ECF No. 64, neither of which addressed the Show-Cause
enforce a judgment for a specific act, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 70(e) provides that a court may hold a disobedient
party in contempt. Fed.R.Civ.P. 70(e). “In addition to
sanctions contemplated by the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, courts have an inherent power at common law . . .
to ‘protect their institutional integrity and to guard
against abuses of the judicial process with contempt
citations, fines, awards of attorneys' fees, and such
other orders and sanctions as they find necessary, including
even dismissals and default judgments.'” Parsi
v. Daioleslam, 778 F.3d 116, 130 (D.C. Cir. 2015)
(quoting Shepherd v. Am. Broadcasting Cos., Inc., 62
F.3d 1469, 1472 (D.C. Cir. 1995) and citing Chambers v.
NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991)); see also
Armstrong v. Exec. Office of the President, Office of
Admin., 1 F.3d 1274, 1289 (D.C. Cir. 1993)
(“[C]ourts have inherent power to enforce compliance
with their lawful orders through civil contempt.”
(quoting Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364,
contempt will lie only if the putative contemnor has violated
an order that is clear and unambiguous, and the violation
must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.”
Broderick v. Donaldson, 437 F.3d 1226, 1234 (D.C.
Cir. 2006) (quoting Armstrong, 1 F.3d at 1289)
(alterations omitted); Salazar v. District of
Columbia, 602 F.3d 431, 442 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (noting
that “‘judicial contempt power is a potent
weapon'” and, consequently, “[c]ivil contempt
may be imposed only when the underlying order is clear and
unambiguous.” (quoting Int'l Longshoremen's
Ass'n v. Phila. Marine Trade Ass'n, 389 U.S. 64,
76 (1967))). “In the context of civil contempt, the
clear and convincing standard requires a quantum of proof
adequate to demonstrate a ‘reasonable certainty'
that a violation occurred.” Breen v. Tucker,
821 F.Supp.2d 375, 383 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting SEC v.
Bilzerian, 729 F.Supp.2d 1, 4 (D.D.C. 2010) (quoting
Levin v. Tiber Holding Corp., 277 F.3d 243, 250 (2d
Cir. 2002))). The “party seeking to hold another in
contempt faces a heavy burden . . . .” United
States v. Volvo Powertrain Corp., 758 F.3d 330, 338
(D.C. Cir. 2014) (quotations and citations omitted).
carry the burden of showing that the defendants should be
held in contempt, the plaintiff must show, by clear and
convincing evidence, that the defendants violated an order
that was clear and unambiguous. The plaintiff here has met
the February 2017 Order was clear and unambiguous. This order
expressly enjoined “Poblete . . . from (1) recording or
attempting to record any documents relating to [the Property]
with the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds or any other
governmental body that would accept such documents, (2)
making any claim whatsoever to any right, title or interest
in the Property, including any claim to possession.”
Feb. 2017 Order at 2. Second, the plaintiff has presented
clear and convincing evidence that Poblete violated this
order by recording the Financing Statement, which identified
the “Luis Ivan Poblete Trust” as secured party
with respect to the Property, Financing Statement at 1, with
the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds.
given an opportunity and ample time to explain this violation
of and noncompliance with the February 2017 Order, Poblete
provided no excuse or justification but instead chose to
obfuscate. See SEC v. Bilzerian, 112 F.Supp.2d 12,
16 (D.D.C. 2000) (“Once the [movant] has made a prima
facie showing that [the contemnor] did not comply with the
Court's orders, the burden shifts to [the contemnor] to
produce evidence justifying his noncompliance.”).
Poblete thus acted in blatant contempt of the February 2017
Order, thereby compounding his actions ...