Am. Fam. Mutual Ins. Co. v. Roth, No. 05 C 3839 & 3869, 2008 WL 168693 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2008) (Guzman, J.).

Judge Guzman adopted Magistrate Judge Cole’s Report and Reconsideration in full, holding defendants in contempt for violating the Court’s injunctions requiring that defendants return various customer information taken from plaintiff, defendant’s former employer – click here for more on the prior opinions in the Blog’s archives. It was defendants’ responsibility to ensure that defendants’ former counsel, who had copies of relevant documents, comply with the injunction by turning the documents over to plaintiff. The fact that defendants did not have direct control over their former counsel’s copies did not matter.

Additionally, the Court held that it did not matter that plaintiff did not originally make a “big deal” out of defendant’s non-compliance. Defendants argued that they presumed there was no need to comply with the Court’s injunctions because nobody was making a “big deal” about the return of the materials. That presumption was flawed. Neither party moved to modify either the preliminary injunction or the amended preliminary injunction. Thus, defendants had a duty to comply with the Court’s injunctions as written.

Practice Tip: Do not fall in to the trap of believing that substantial compliance with a court order is sufficient. While that could be true in some cases, you should always contact the court if you have a problem complying with an order. Compliance with orders is one case where the adage that you are better off asking forgiveness than asking permission does not hold true.