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United States v. Darwin Construction Co.

United States District Court for the District of Maryland
680 F. Supp. 739 (1988)


On June 23, 1986, a district court ordered Darwin Construction Company (Darwin) (defendant) to either comply with a summons by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (plaintiff) demanding that Darwin provide certain documents, or face penalties of $5,000 per day for noncompliance. Darwin had already been asked for the documents prior to the June 23 order. On June 24, Darwin furnished some, but not all, of the documents to the IRS. On June 27, an IRS agent informed Darwin that the production was incomplete, whereupon Darwin furnished the missing documents on June 30. At a subsequent hearing, evidence showed that Darwin had either known the documents were missing or taken no special steps to find out and ensure compliance before the June 23 hearing. The court found Darwin to be in civil contempt for the six days of noncompliance between June 24 and June 30, and fined Darwin $5,000 per day. Darwin filed a motion to set aside or reduce the fine based on substantial compliance with the June 23 order and good faith. Darwin argued that it had made all reasonable efforts to produce the documents after the June 23 order and that the court’s fine was punishing Darwin for its failures prior to that order. Darwin further argued that because the items produced six days late were misfiled and buried behind dozens of other boxes, the items were impossible to produce on time.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Young, J.)

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