here is that Mr. Jansen misled himself. He treated a court order as though it were a demand letter from plaintiffs. His course of conduct was consistent with this: he began negotiations with the plaintiffs, and did not pay even that which he knew he owed. This may be an appropriate response to a demand letter. It is not a proper response to a court order.
One last aspect of this is Mr. Jansen's observation that he took these actions without legal advice and in the face of "a unique court order" (a mandatory injunction). Without counsel, it is doubtful that Mr. Jansen perceived the court order was "unique", and, at all events, "unique" orders are no less binding than "ordinary" orders. Moreover, the fact that he was without counsel was his choice, not plaintiffs'.
In short, even if one accepts Mr. Jansen's explanations for his conduct on May 15, 16 or 17, the continued disobedience to the Court's order is inexcusable.
This leads to the question of remedy. An "award of costs and attorney fees in civil contempt is clearly proper and wholly independent of an award of compensatory damages." Shakman v. Democratic Organization of Cook County, 533 F.2d 344, 351 (7th Cir. 1976). Compensatory fines are also permissible (and may be a matter of entitlement). See Thompson v. Cleland, 782 F.2d 719, 722 n. 5 (7th Cir. 1986). There is evidence that Mr. Jansen has the resources to pay such fees and compensation.
What the plaintiffs' lost was three payments of $ 10,500 (May 12, 19, 26) or $ 31,500.00. There were also attorney fees and costs of $ 12,185.00. Mr. Jansen does not challenge the correctness of these amounts. At most, he argues that his conduct was understandable, if not excusable, in light of the financial crisis he faced at Express Freight. But his conduct is as consistent with a deliberate pattern of delay and avoidance of indisputable obligation as it is with an understandable desire to fend off allegations before worrying about draining the swamp (even if he was mistaken of what was the swamp and what the alligator). It is my view that to avoid compensatory fines and attorneys fees and costs here, mitigation must be shown and not merely suggested. It is not shown here.
Accordingly, Christopher Jansen is found to be in willful civil contempt of this Court's Order of May 12, 1989 and is ordered to pay a compensatory fine of $ 31,500.00 to plaintiffs as well as attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $ 12,185.00.