I was checking out the First Circuit’s RSS feed of recent oral arguments for another reason, and I happened to see that the appeal of the contempt sanctions in one of my favorite cases of the day, AngioDynamics v. Biolitec, 946 F. Supp. 2d 205 (D. Mass. 2013), was recently argued. As you might recall, this was the case in which a German company had been enjoined from merging with its Austrian subsidiary but went ahead with the merger anyway, causing the judge to throw the book not just at the German firm, Biolitic AG, but at its CEO and majority shareholder, Wolfgang Neuberger. The judge imposed escalating monetary sanctions until the merger was undone and issued a warrant for Neuberger’s arrest when Neuberger refused to appear in court when the court required his appearance.
I won’t comment at any length on the argument until the First Circuit issues its decision. But I will predict with some confidence on the basis of the argument that Neuberger is cruisin’ for a bruisin’. The judges seemed thoroughly unimpressed with any argument that Biolitic and Neuberger had not committed a contempt of court. The only live issue seemed to be whether the contempt sanction was too high given the amount of damages claimed in the underlying case; but it seems to me that because the sanctions have grown only because of the contemnors’ continued refusal to obey the court’s order, they can hardly complain about the amount of the sanctions. Talk about chutzpah!