FROM FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE PAMELA R. GOODWINE,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CI-00719
FOR APPELLANT: Michael Sidebottom, pro se Oviedo, Florida.
FOR APPELLEE: Estill D. Banks, II Lexington, Kentucky.
BEFORE: D. LAMBERT, TAYLOR, AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.
LAMBERT, D. JUDGE.
an appeal from a Fayette Circuit Court order holding Michael
Sidebottom (hereafter, Sidebottom), in contempt. Sidebottom
settled a dispute with Watershed Equine, LLC, (hereafter,
Watershed), wherein he agreed to pay $18, 000, plus
post-judgment interest. When Sidebottom failed to pay,
Watershed sought post-judgment discovery regarding the amount
owed. When Sidebottom did not attend a scheduled deposition,
the circuit court held him in contempt. Sidebottom was given
thirty days to pay the entire amount owed to Watershed in
lieu of immediate remand. After review, we vacate and remand
for a new hearing.
April 2015, Sidebottom and Watershed settled a civil dispute
arising from unpaid horse boarding fees. By the terms of the
settlement, Sidebottom agreed to pay Watershed $18, 000, plus
post-judgment interest. The settlement also included an
agreed payment plan.
the payment plan, Sidebottom failed to pay the full amount
owed. In fact, he only tendered $1, 046 of the $18, 000
total. Watershed subsequently sought discovery regarding
Sidebottom's ability to pay the debt. Watershed's
counsel emailed Sidebottom on November 5, 2016, regarding a
deposition to be taken later that month. Moreover, Watershed
served Sidebottom with a subpoena on November 9, 2015,
notifying him that his deposition would be taken on November
notifications notwithstanding, Sidebottom did not attend the
scheduled deposition. Instead, he sent Watershed an email
reply on November 23, 2016, explaining his unavailability.
Watershed filed a show cause motion with the circuit court,
and a hearing was held on that motion.
the hearing, Sidebottom testified as to his financial
situation and his assets. He also admitted his failure to
make payments in accordance with the payment schedule
outlined in the settlement agreement. The circuit court
orally determined Sidebottom had sufficient assets to pay the
amount of the original settlement. There was also an oral
finding that Sidebottom could pay the respective fees and
costs for Watershed to bring the show cause motion. The
circuit court entered a written order finding Sidebottom in
contempt of court, but allowed him to avoid imprisonment if
he paid $22, 013.12, the total amount owed, within thirty
days. This appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court has broad discretion to find individuals in contempt
when they willfully disobey or openly disrespect the rules or
orders of a court. Crowder v. Rearden, 296 S.W.3d
445, 450 (Ky. App. 2009). Appellate courts therefore review a
finding of contempt under the abuse of discretion standard,
which means the order must be reasonable and legally sound.
Id. As for a contemnor's ability to satisfy a
judgment, and thereby purge a contempt amount, this is a
finding of fact to be made by the trial court. Clay v.
Winn, 434 S.W.2d 650, 654 (Ky. 1968). Trial court
factual findings are reviewed on appeal for clear error.
Com., Cabinet for Health and Family Servs. v. Ivy,
353 S.W.3d 324, 332 (Ky. 2011). In other words, the findings
will not be disturbed if supported by substantial evidence.
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Golightly, 976
S.W.2d 409, 414 (Ky. 1998).