It is gratifying when a person appears to take the position that he can defy legal obligations and our court system puts him in his place.
Mr. Nasser Kazeminy, a highly successful business person, seems to have found himself in this situation in connection with his son’s divorce proceedings. Mr. Nasser Kazeminy was required to produce financial records in connection with the proceedings (his son, Nader, among other things, is an officer in the family company, NJK, and the beneficiary of significant family trust funds). But, in response for demands for financial information, Papa Kazeminy took the position, “I’m not going to give nobody anything.”
Hennepin County District Court Judge Edward T. Wahl concluded otherwise and he found NJK and Mr. Kazeminy in contempt for their failure to obey court orders for the production of documents. Judge Wahl ordered NJK and Kazeminy to pay $89,612.50 of the other side’s legal fees. Mr. Kazeminy appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and, this week, lost there. We will see whether he has the appetite for further appeal and whether the Minnesota Supreme Court will take up the issue. We hope not. This case has already dragged on far too long.
This week’s appellate decision should be of interest to Minnesota litigators in its discussion of contempt, civil contempt, and constructive civil contempt and, also, its discussion of criminal contempt vs. civil contempt. Still further, it touches on whether a non-party can be found to have violated Minn. R. Civ. P. 37, the rule for sanctioning parties (normally) for wrongdoing in civil discovery and answers, “yes.” This might be the most practical pointer of all for Minnesota litigators (because contempt proceedings are quite rare).