United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
these consolidated cases involving the question of coverage
under a long-term care insurance policy, before the Court is
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company's motion for
civil contempt and for entry of judgment against Candace
Williamson, attorney of record for the Estate of Purvis
William Hill, Jr. Doc. #123. Because the motion fails to
provide sufficient evidence for the contempt holding it
seeks, and because the amount of the requested judgment
appears inconsistent with applicable law, the Court requests
additional briefing and evidence.
March 6, 2017, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
(“Mass Mutual”), invoking Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 17, 25, and 41, and the Court's inherent power
to sanction, filed a “Motion for Entry of an Order to
Show Cause, ” asking the Court to require Candace
Williamson to show cause why these cases should not be
dismissed for her failure to comply with various court
orders. Doc. #69. United States Magistrate Judge Jane M.
Virden noticed the show cause motion for a March 16, 2017,
hearing. Doc. #70. Williamson did not appear for the noticed
hearing. See Doc. #71.
after Williamson failed to appear for the show cause hearing,
Judge Virden issued an order awarding Mass. Mutual
attorney's fees and expenses associated with its show
cause motion and the subsequent hearing. Doc. #72. Judge
Virden found sanctions justified by Williamson's
“unprofessional and reprehensible”
“flagrant disregard of this court's orders
….” Id. at 2.
Mutual submitted its itemization of fees on March 24, 2017.
Doc. #73. On April 4, 2017, Judge Virden approved a $3, 000
fee award and directed Williamson to pay such amount by May
19, 2017. Doc. #74. When Williamson failed to pay the $3, 000
fee by the ordered date, Mass. Mutual, on June 1, 2017, filed
a motion to compel the payment. Doc. #87. Judge Virden
noticed the motion for a June 22, 2017, hearing. Doc. #88.
Williamson did not appear for the hearing. See Doc.
#90 at 4.
26, 2017, Judge Virden issued an order stating:
The court finds, as it explained at the hearing, that Ms.
Williamson's conduct, as an officer of the court, in
repeatedly refusing to follow the court's orders is
egregious. Indeed, this conduct is willful and prejudicial to
the administration of justice, a violation of
MISS.R.PROF'L CONDUCT 8.4 (d). Given the gravity of this
matter, the court awards, as additional sanctions for
counsel's misconduct, fees of an additional $1, 000.00 to
be paid to Mass. Mutual by Ms. Williamson for the benefit of
its counsel, bringing the total fees now awarded to $4,
000.00. The court further orders that the total fees shall be
paid in full on or before 7 days from the date of this order.
If Ms. Williamson fails to pay the fees timely or otherwise
seek and obtain relief from this court for inability to do
so, an additional sanction of $100.00 a day will accrue,
until the total is fully satisfied.
Id. at 4.
Estate's claims were subsequently dismissed as a sanction
for Williamson engaging “in contumacious conduct by
flagrantly disregarding numerous orders of the Court.”
Doc. #119 at 7-8. Mass. Mutual's claim for a declaratory
judgment were dismissed as moot. Doc. #122.
April 10, 2019, Mass. Mutual filed a motion to hold Candace
Williamson in contempt of court and to enter judgment against
“Williamson in favor of MassMutual in the amount of
$68, 600.00, ” with such award to increase at a rate of
a $100.00 per day. Doc. #123 at 6. At Judge Virden's
direction, Mass. Mutual filed a supplemental brief in support
of its motion. Doc. #126. Williamson did not respond to the
motion or the supplemental brief.