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Maurer v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

August 16, 2019

JEFFREY J. MAURER PLAINTIFF
v.
SARAH JONES DEFENDANT

          OPINION AND ORDER

          LANNY KING, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell referred this matter to Magistrate Judge Lanny King for ruling on all discovery motions. (Docket # 11). This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Jeffrey Maurer's Motion to Compel regarding various financial inquiries of Defendant Sarah Jones' financial assets, as well as those owned by her husband, Charles ‘Chuck' Jones. (Docket # 47). Defendant Jones filed a Response on June 25, 2019. (Docket # 52). Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for adjudication.

         For the reasons detailed below, Plaintiff's Motion to Compel is GRANTED. (Docket # 47).

         Factual Background

         On August 16, 2018, Judge Russell entered an Order and Judgment in favor of Plaintiff Maurer. (Docket # 24). The subject of this Judgment was a debt incurred by Defendant Jones, her husband, Charles Jones, and other related entities stemming from a prior consent judgment. (Id.). Mr. Jones is currently the subject of a proceeding in Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Kentucky, styled C.A. Jones Inc., et al., v. Mayson Capital Partners, LLC, et al., Case No. 5:14-cv-74; Adversary No. 16-05012.

         Plaintiff served Defendant with a set of post-judgment discovery requests on October 17, 2018. (Docket # 39-1). Following multiple telephonic status conferences and show cause hearings, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file a motion to compel answers to his discovery requests regarding the assets of her husband, Charles “Chuck” Jones. (Docket # 45).

         On the first page, Plaintiff's Motion to Compel states that he seeks “to obtain discovery on the location and nature of assets that may be owned or controlled by Defendant either individually or jointly with her spouse.” (Docket # 47 at 1). This is inconsistent with the Court's Order granting leave to file the Motion to Compel. Assets “owned or controlled by Defendant either individually or jointly with her spouse” were addressed by the Court in a previous Order. (Docket # 45). Plaintiff's descriptions of discovery requests propounded upon Defendant also seek information about the assets held by Defendant, Sarah Jones or other entities.[1] Again, this is inconsistent with the Court's Order (Id.).

         Plaintiff properly frames the issue addressed in this Order on the second page of his Motion to Compel, “Pursuant to this Court's Order entered on June 5, 2019, Plaintiff was granted leave to file this Motion to Compel regarding Defendant's obligations to provide information known or obtainable by Defendant regarding the assets of C. Jones.” (Docket # 47 at 2). This Order only addresses those assets held by Defendant's husband, Charles “Chuck” Jones, as contemplated in the previous Order and does not address those assets in which Defendant Jones holds an interest.

         Plaintiff argues that he should be entitled to discovery regarding the assets held by Mr. Jones of which Mrs. Jones has control or knowledge. Specifically, he argues that information regarding the assets of a judgment debtor's spouse is within the bounds of post-judgment discovery, primarily to avoid issues of hidden assets in anticipation of a judgment. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is obligated “to provide information known or obtainable by Defendant regarding the assets of C. Jones.” (Id.).

         Defendant responds that she has fully answered Plaintiff's discovery requests and that he seeks to compel the production of additional information not within her control. (Docket # 52 at 3). She contends that Plaintiff is indeed entitled to the additional information, but that she cannot provide it. (Id.). She believes that the proper path for Plaintiff to pursue is through discovery requests directed at a third party, her husband, Mr. Jones. (Id. at 5).

         Legal Standards

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide a mechanism for discovery by a creditor in the post-judgment stage of litigation. Rule 69(a)(2) states that “in aid of the judgment or execution, the judgment creditor … may obtain discovery from any person-including the judgment debtor-as provided in these rules or by the procedure of the state where the court is located.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 69(a)(2). Compared to discovery during litigation, post-judgment discovery is “very broad.” United States v. Conces, 507 F.3d 1028, 1040 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). District courts in other jurisdictions have found that the creditor may “utilize the full panoply of federal discovery measures” provided for under federal and state law to obtain information from parties and non-parties alike, including information about assets on which execution can issue or about assets that have been fraudulently transferred. Magnaleasing, Inc. v. Staten Island Mall, 76 F.R.D. 559, 561 (FN 1) (S.D.N.Y. 1977) (emphasis added) (judgment creditor was entitled to discovery on parts of settlement agreement relating to existence or transfer of defendants' assets, where it was alleged that the agreement involved improper transfers of those assets).

         The judgment creditor is entitled to obtain information regarding a judgment debtor's spouse in the course of post-judgment discovery. Andrews v. Raphaelson, No. 2009 WL 1211136, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 30, 2009). “It is beyond question that a judgment creditor is allowed to ask a judgment debtor for asset and financial information relating to the debtor's spouse or other family members.” Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh v. Van Waeyenberghe, 148 F.R.D. 256, 256-57 (N.D. Ind. 1993); see also United States v. Cimino, 219 F.R.D. 695, 696-97 (N.D. Fla. 2003) (requiring production of joint bank account records of judgment debtor and husband); Compare G-Fours, Inc. v. Miele, 496 F.2d 809, 811-12 (2nd Cir. 1974) (martial communications privilege did not preclude disclosure of judgment debtor's bank accounts, property, and recent transfers of money and property to his wife in a collection action). This information is broadly relevant, as it may lead to discovery of assets recoverable to satisfy judgments, or it may show that assets or funds were improperly transferred to avoid the reach of creditors. Id. (affirming trial court's order holding judgment debtor's spouse in contempt for ...


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