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Cadena v. A-E Contracting, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 22, 2016

EDWIN CADENA, FERNANDO CASANO, RODOLFO RIVERA, LUIS ALBERTO FLORES, and ROMAN AGUIRE, Plaintiffs,
v.
A-E CONTRACTING, LLC & AKBAR ETEMADFAR, Defendants.

          RECOMMENDED RULING ON ACCOUNTING, CONTEMPT SANCTIONS AND PENDING MOTIONS

          HOLLY B. FITZSIMMONS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs are five laborers who brought this Fair Labor Standards Act action against the defendants Akbar Etemadfar and the company of which he is sole principal and owner, A-E Contracting, LLC. A default judgment in the amount of $26, 938.53 was entered against the defendants on September 22, 2009 [Doc. 31]. Due to subsequent awards of additional attorney's fees and post judgment interest, the judgment amount has increased to $43, 941.48 [Doc. 110].

         In a ruling adopted by this Court on December 11, 2015 [Docs. 160 & 165], the Court held that defendant Etemadfar had acted in contempt of this Court's authority. On December 15, 2015, the Court convened a hearing to determine the amount outstanding on the judgment, the amount of reasonable fees owed to the Receiver, the amount of reasonable attorney's fees incurred by plaintiffs' counsel in monitoring and enforcing the Court's Order, and an appropriate sanction to compensate for the damage caused by defendant Etemadfar's contempt resulting from his continual non- compliance with this Court's orders. Subsequent to that hearing, plaintiff filed a motion for entry of an award of attorney's fees and costs and receiver fees [Doc. 173].

         Defendant Etemadfar has filed a motion to dismiss the Receiver [Doc. 130], a motion to order the Receiver to pay taxes, water and garbage [Doc. 131], a motion to release the liens on his properties [Doc. 134], a motion to terminate the case and refund the excess money [Doc. 150], and a motion for payment [Doc. 183]. In his opposition to the motion for award of attorney's fees and costs and receiver fees, defendant Etemadfar has requested a hearing to allow further inquiry into the accounting of the rents submitted at the December 15 hearing. Upon review, the Court DENIES the request for the hearing and makes the following findings.

         BACKGROUND

         Due to difficulty collecting the judgment, this Court appointed a receiver to collect rents from defendants' properties and to manage the rental properties. This Court has found defendant Etemadfar in contempt for defying this Court's orders barring him from interfering with the duties of the receiver, for contacting and harassing the tenants, and for entering the property.

         On August 25, 2015 [Doc. 127], this Court unequivocally barred defendant Etemadfar from involvement with 4 France Street as follows:

Neither defendant Akbar (a/kla "Alex") Etemadfar, nor his agents, nor any employee or agent of defendant A-E Contracting, LLC, shall have any communication with any of the tenants, or with the family of or visitors to any of the tenants at 4 France Street, Norwalk. It is further ordered that neither defendant Akbar (a/kla "Alex") Etemadfar, nor his agents, nor any employee or agent of defendant A-E Contracting, LLC, shall take any action that interferes in any fashion with Goodman's management of the property, his communications with the tenants, or his collection of rents on the property. Neither defendant Akbar (a/kla "Alex") Etemadfar, nor his agents, nor any employee or agent of defendant A-E Contracting, LLC, shall have the authority to solicit applications for tenants, enter into leases, or collect any monies from applicants for tenancy or from tenants, or from the Norwalk Housing Authority. In the event that defendant Akbar (a/kla "Alex") Etemadfar, or his agents, or any employee or agent of defendant A-E Contracting, LLC, are approached by any person or organization, including but not limited to the Norwalk Housing Authority, regarding rental units at 4 France Street, Norwalk, he or they are to direct any and all such inquiries to Goodman as the Court appointed property manager.

         The Court afforded defendant Etemadfar seven calendar days to remove his personal or business property from the garage and parking area.

         On October 2, 2015, plaintiffs' attorney sought a finding of contempt due to Etemadfar's commencement of eviction proceedings against a tenant at the 4 France Street property. On November 5, 2015, this Court convened a hearing to determine whether defendant Etemadfar should be held in contempt for violating this Court's order. At the hearing, plaintiff had admitted that he continually maintained access to the security cameras at the 4 France Street building; that he caused agents to have contact with tenants; and that he commenced eviction proceedings against a tenant in the Housing Session of Superior Court. At the hearing, plaintiffs' counsel pointed out that not all of the tenants at 4 France Street had complied with this Court's order by paying their rent to the receiver. Consequently, the Court ordered defendant to provide plaintiff with all leases and a list of all tenants who should have been paying rent to the receiver for the building known as 4 France Street by Friday, November 20, 2015.

         In its recommended ruling dated November 20, 2015 [Doc. 160], the Court made a finding of contempt based on Etemadfar's admission that he continually maintained access to the security cameras at the 4 France Street building; that he caused agents to have contact with tenants; and that he commenced eviction proceedings against a tenant in the Housing Session of Superior Court. The Court adopted the recommended ruling on December 11, 2015 [Doc. 165].

         Due to defendant Etemadfar's failure to provide tenant information as ordered, the Court issued another order dated November 30, 2015, instructing defendant Etemadfar to provide lease documents and a list of the tenants by December 4, 2015 [Doc. 161]. Defendant failed to timely comply with this order. In a telephonic conference held on December 10, 2015, defendant Etemadfar represented that he did not know the identities of the tenants and did not possess any leases because his cousin managed the property.

         On December 10, 2015, the Court issued an order instructing defendant to provide information about the rent paid by each tenant and the identity of the entity or individual to whom such rent had been paid [Doc. 163]. The Order provided that if defendant could not provide such information, his counsel should hire a State Marshal to enter the building and to determine the tenants, their contact information, the amount of rent paid by each tenant, and the entity or individual to whom the rent had been paid by each tenant since appointment of the receiver. The Order set forth that if such information was not provided to plaintiffs' counsel by 5 PM on Monday, December 14, 2015, the defendant should produce the individual asserted by defendant to be his cousin who manages the property to testify at the scheduled hearing on December 15, 2015.

         At the December 15, 2015 hearing, defendant Etemadfar's counsel informed the Court that his client had been taken into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with an order of deportation pending. Defendant's counsel represented that the Court's prior orders regarding the identities and payment of rents had not been satisfied. The Court allowed that a private investigator agreed ...


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