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Money of Account IOU Doesn’t Satisfy Money Judgment

Posted by James Juo | Dec 05, 2022 | 0 Comments

A self-represented or pro se defendant was found liable for infringing plaintiff's NORTHSTAR MOVING trademark, and a permanent injunction was issued for him to cease using “NorthStar Movers” with its moving services. The Court's Final Judgment also awarded $13,059,727.60 for federal trademark infringement. Final Judgment, NorthStar Moving Holding Co., Inc. v. King David Van Lines, No. 0:19-cv-62176 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 22, 2021). Plaintiff had elected to recover profits against the individual pro se defendant, and the Court “exercised its discretion to enhance the award of profits to Plaintiff three times the amount of Defendant KDVL's gross sales for the infringing time period.” Id. The Final Judgment also awarded $100,000.00 in statutory damages under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) (“ACPA”). Id. Reasonable attorney's fees and costs as to the trademark infringement and ACPA claims also were awarded. Id.

On August 24, 2022, the defendant filed a “Notice of Circumstances to the Court,” which stated he had submitted a “Tender” to plaintiff “in the amount of 13,659,727.60 money of account units.” This “Tender” stated:

The United States Congress has declared in the notes to 31 U.S.C. 5101 that ”money of account” or ”money” for short, has not been defined by any Court. As soon as the unit ”money” is defined and comes into general circulation and the use or possession of the unit does not prejudice my legal or constitutional rights in any manner l will fulfill this offer. Equal application of the law requires that this promise be given the same weight and consideration as any other promise.

On October 31, 2022, defendant argued that, because plaintiff had received defendant's “Tender pursuant to the Judgment of this Court,” the judgment was satisfied. Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Contempt, NorthStar Moving Holding Co., Inc. v. King David Van Lines, No. 0:19-cv-62176 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 31, 2022).

Thus, Defendant refused to comply with a pending Order to respond to requests for production because his “Tender” in the full amount of the judgment “operates to make the need for the completion of any compliance forms that aid collection moot.” Id.

Civil Contempt

Ruling on a motion to show cause why the individual pro se defendant should not be held in civil contempt, Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt held that he was in contempt of court. NorthStar Moving Holding Co., Inc. v. King David Van Lines, No. 0:19-cv-62176 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 1, 2022).

            In essence, [pro se defendant] Guzi appears to have submitted an IOU to Plaintiff based on a supposed legal loophole. However, such arguments have already been attempted by others and found to be lacking. See United States v. Kegley, No. CV-13-5053-EFS, 2015 WL 9480031, at *4 (E.D. Wash. Dec. 29, 2015) (“[Defendant's] belief that he can pay this owed debt in gold or silver coins, or some other form of payment, other than United States legal tender is erroneous.”). While courts should afford a litigant proceeding pro se leeway in pleadings, even pro se litigants must satisfy essential burdens. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 933 (1991). Guzi has failed this requirement . . .

Accordingly, the Court recommended that defendant “should incur a $100 fine per each day he remains in noncompliance with this Court's [discovery] Order, ECF No. 336,” where the fine would “begin to accrue only if and when the District Court adopts the undersigned's Recommendation.”

The attorneys at Thomas P. Howard, LLC litigate trademark cases nationwide including in Colorado.

About the Author

James Juo

James Juo is an experienced intellectual property attorney. He has successfully litigated various intellectual property disputes involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. He also has counseled clients on the scope and validity of patent and trademark rights.


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