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Posted: December 3, 2017

Party Cannot Be Held in Contempt for Failing to Pay a Fee Award

On November 29, 2017, the Second Department issued a decision in Liang v. Yi Jing Tan, 2017 NY Slip Op. 08364, holding that a party cannot be held in contempt for failing to pay a fee award, explaining:

The Supreme Court erred in granting, after a hearing, the plaintiff’s motion to hold the defendants’ attorney in civil contempt based upon her failure to pay counsel fees awarded to the plaintiff in an order dated August 12, 2014. Judiciary Law ยง 753(A)(3) permits a court to punish a party for civil contempt for the non-payment of a sum of money, ordered or adjudged by the court to be paid, in a case where by law execution can not be awarded for the collection of such sum. This is not a case where, by law, execution cannot be awarded. Therefore, the remedy of contempt is unavailable.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).

We are experienced in bringing and defending contempt motions in civil litigation. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client has questions regarding what acts can constitute contempt or what remedies are available through a motion for contempt.

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