United States: Fox Team Scores Win In Texas Civil Contempt Case
Last Updated: February 19 2015

On February 9, a Fox Rothschild LLP litigation team, led by Partners Mark Goodman and Michael Rumac, earned a victory for client Coventry II DDR/Trademark Montgomery Farm LP (Trademark), concluding a years-long dispute that originated in a bankruptcy case.

In the case, Texas attorney Mpatanishi Tayari Garrett represented a client against Trademark and filed proceedings seeking sanctions and to hold Trademark in contempt of court for violating the bankruptcy stay. Not only did Trademark defeat the contempt claims (which were also successfully defended in the first Fifth Circuit appeal) but also, Trademark flipped the tables on Garrett when the court sanctioned her and her firm.

Referring to the most recent case as "unseemly," the Fifth Circuit on Garrett's second appeal upheld a bankruptcy court's civil contempt order against her, rejecting all of her legal arguments opposing the contempt order, most notably, Garrett's argument that a contempt order for failure to pay the court-mandated fine violates a Texas law prohibiting imprisonment for a debt. In addition to the original $25,000, Garrett was ordered to pay Trademark an additional $6,500 to cover costs incurred in attempting to collect the original sanction debt. All told, Garrett and her firm now owe in excess of $100,000 in sanctions.

A Texas bankruptcy judge, in an earlier ruling against Garrett, characterized her behavior as "thumbing her nose" at the judicial system.

Goodman and Rumac expressed satisfaction with the Texas court's ruling in an interview with Law360. "This has been a long road for Trademark," noted Rumac. "They're happy that they are finally getting some closure. The courts found that Ms. Garrett does owe this money and our client would ultimately like to collect it."

Goodman is a commercial litigator who represents individuals and companies of all sizes. His commercial litigation representations include those related to real estate transactions; lender/borrower matters; disputes involving landlord/tenant and partner/owner matters; and agent/player disagreements related to sports law. Prior to joining Fox, Goodman was a shareholder and head of the Litigation Department at David & Goodman, P.C., a firm that merged with Fox Rothschild in 2014.

Rumac handles an array of litigation matters related to business; commercial concerns; real estate; construction; pharmacist litigation; insurance defense; wills and probate; and banking. He represents clients in all levels of appeals, and counsels homeowners associations in regulatory compliance and litigation matters. As a registered pharmacist in Texas and several other states, he frequently acts as a resource and adviser for pharmacy clients. Prior to joining Fox, Rumac was a partner at David& Goodman, P.C. 

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