Inst. of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 12-19-2014
  • Case #: 12-35266
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge M. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judges Kozinski and Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

The party an injunction is issued upon can be held in contempt if they aid and abet another party in performing acts prohibited by the injunction.

An injunction was issued upon the Sea Shepherd US and several of its members (“Defendants”) prohibiting them, or any party acting with them, from attacking the Plaintiffs’ whaling and fueling vessels. In response to the injunction, the Defendants employed a “separation strategy” in which Sea Shepherd Australia would perform acts against the Plaintiffs instead of Sea Shepherd US in furtherance of the Defendants’ whale defense campaign. When Sea Shepherd Australia interfered with Plaintiffs’ whaling operations, Plaintiffs’ filed a motion arguing that Sea Shepherd US was in contempt of the issued injunction through use of the “separation strategy.” Both parties filed objections to the Appellate Commissioner’s ruling that the Defendants had not violated the injunction bringing the case to the United States Court of Appeals. Under Regal Knitwear Co. v. NLRB “a party may be held liable for knowingly aiding and abetting another to violate a court order.” A party to an injunction who assists others in performing forbidden conduct may be held in contempt, even if the court’s order did not explicitly forbid his specific acts of assistance.” Following issuance of the injunction and transfer of the whale defense campaign to Sea Shepherd Australia, the founder of Sea Shepherd US and other members of Sea Shepherd US still remained active in the operations of the whale defense campaign directing and funding its operations. Therefore, the panel determined that Sea Shepherd US’s “separation strategy” aided and abetted Sea Shepherd Australia in the whale defense campaign. Consequently, actions performed by Sea Shepherd Australia would have violated the injunction had Defendants performed them and Sea Shepherd US’s continued presence in the whale defense campaign resulted in Sea Shepherd US and participating members to be held in civil contempt. IT IS SO ORDERED.

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