Contempt Sanctions – Litigation Accountability Act

Chance v. Jenkins, [Ms. 2200211, Aug. 27, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2021). The court (Hanson, J.; Thompson, P. J., and Moore, Edwards, and Fridy, JJ., concur) affirms the Montgomery Circuit Court’s judgment awarding custody to the father while reversing a portion of the court’s judgment awarding sanctions against the mother.

The court affirms the award of fees and costs attributed to the mother’s failures to allow discovery, and explains “[r]ule 37(d), Ala. R. Civ. P., provides that, when a party fails to respond to production requests propounded pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6) or Rule 34, Ala. R. Civ. P., a trial court has the power to “‘require the party failing to act to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, caused by the failure,’ and we perceive no abuse of discretion as to that award, which was supported by affidavits filed by the father and his counsel.” Ms. *15. The court reverses an $8500 “contempt” sanction against the mother for fees incurred by the father in a PFA proceeding the mother filed in Macon County because the father did not seek contempt sanctions related to the PFA proceeding. Ms. *16. The court declines to affirm the award as a Litigation Accountability Act sanction because “the trial court made none of the findings set forth in § 12-19-273 [Ala. Code 1975] to justify its $8,500 award....” Ms. *21.

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