United States District Court, Southern District of New York
May 13, 2003
MARIO VALENTE COLLEZIONI, LTD., PLAINTIFF, AGAINST CONFEZIONI SEMERARO PAOLO, S.R.L., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lewis A. Kaplan, United States District Judge
The pending motion to hold Jacob Siegel, Inc. and Idea Uomo, Inc. in contempt is based on the theory that restraining notices served upon them by the plaintiff were effective and that the alleged contemnors knew or had reason to believe that one or more of the judgment debtors had an interest in property transferred by it at the time of the transfer(s). In the event plaintiff establishes these and any other elements necessary to a contempt finding, it presumably would be liable for a sum of money, whether characterized as a compensatory contempt fine or damages, the measure of which in either case being the loss proximately caused by the contempt, and attorney's fees. See generally In re Nassau Expressway, Borough of Queens, City of New York, 56 Misc.2d 602, 603, 289 N.Y.S.2d 680, 683 (Sup.Ct. Queens Co. 1968); David D. Siegel, Practice Commentaries C5222:10, 7B MCKINNEY'S CONSOLIDATED LAWS OF NEW YORK ANNOTATED (1997).
In this case, it is conceivable that plaintiff will succeed in showing that the alleged contemnors had reason to believe at the time of the transfers in question that the judgment debtors had an interest or interests in the property transferred even if the transferee in fact had no such interest. The latter question, which the Court understands to rest on whether Antica Sartoria Italiana is the alter ego of one or more of the judgment debtors, is pending before Judge Stein in plaintiff's plenary action, Mario Valente Collezioni v. Semeraro, 02 Civ. 0196 (SHS).
It would be wasteful for this Court to decide the question whether the transferee actually had an interest in the property transferred by the alleged contemnors. Accordingly, for purposes of the May 28 hearing on the plaintiff's contempt motion, the issues of whether the plaintiff suffered actual loss by reason of any contempt and of the amount of any attorney's fees to be awarded are severed and reserved for later determination. The scope of the hearing will be limited accordingly.
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