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Allstar Lodging, Inc. v. Rookard

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

November 12, 2013

ALLSTAR LODGING, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM ROOKARD, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MICHAEL F. URBANSKI, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on plaintiff Allstar Lodging, Inc., ("Allstar")'s motion to enforce judgment. (Dkt. No. 15). The judgment Allstar seeks to enforce is a consent injunction entered by the court on April 29, 2013. (Dkt. No. 13). Allstar filed the motion on September 6, 2013, and a hearing was held on September 26, 2013. After the hearing, the court permitted the parties to submit additional evidence. That evidence having been submitted, the matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, the court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part. Specifically, the court finds the pro se defendant William Rookard ("Rookard") in civil contempt for violating the injunction's non-disparagement clause and orders that he pay one thousand and sixty-one dollars ($1, 061) in attorney's fees to Allstar.

I.

Allstar, a company which rents vacation cabins in the Shenandoah Valley, originally brought suit against Rookard and his company SWI Technologies alleging violations of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and the Lanham Act, along with counterfeiting and several pendant state law claims. The parties were able to resolve the matter on mutually agreeable terms with the assistance of the Honorable James G. Welsh, United States Magistrate Judge. The parties crafted a consent injunction, which was entered by the court.

The terms of the injunction, as drafted by the parties, required Rookard to provide ads for Allstar on four travel websites that he owned and operated. The exact wording of the injunction is, in pertinent part, as follows:

For a period of ten (10) years, Defendants shall provide the same a banner ad at the top of each home page as was previously provided, and be linked to allstarlodging.com, from each of the following websites: www.shenandoahlodging.com; www.visitluray.com; www.goluray.com; and www.vavacationcabins.com.

(Dkt. No. 13, at 2). The injunction also contains a non-disparagement clause, which states that "the parties will refrain from making any verbal or written statement that disparages the other party." Id . Allstar contends that Rookard failed to place its ads on the top of these websites as required. Allstar seems to take particular issue with the placement of other ads above its own. Allstar further asserts that its ads were not placed on the homepages of the websites identified in the injunction, but instead placed on the subpages of the websites relating to cabin rentals. Finally, Allstar argues that one of the ads placed by Rookard was disparaging.

II.

The court's authority to award civil contempt damages "ha[s] long been recognized." Folk v. Wallace Bus. Forms, Inc. , 394 F.2d 240, 244 (4th Cir. 1968) (collecting cases). Civil contempt must be established by clear and convincing evidence, but willfulness is not a requirement. JTH Tax, Inc. v. Noor, No. 2:11CV22, 2012 WL 4473252, at *2 (E.D. Va. Sept. 26, 2012) (internal citations omitted).[1] A court must find four elements to establish civil contempt:

(1) the existence of a valid decree of which the alleged contemnor had actual or constructive knowledge;
(2) that the decree was in the movant's "favor;"
(3) that the alleged contemnor by its conduct violated the terms of the decree, and had knowledge (at least constructive) of such violations; and;
(4) that [the] movant suffered harm as a result.

Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc. , 218 F.3d 288, 301 (4th Cir. 2000) (quoting Colonial Williamsburg Found. v. The Kittinger Co. , 792 F.Supp. 1397, 1405-06 (E.D. Va. 1992), ...


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