'Girls Gone Wild's' Joe Francis Fined $5K/Day by Bankruptcy Judge - Celebrity Justice
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'Girls Gone Wild's' Joe Francis Fined $5K/Day by Bankruptcy Judge

Joe Francis, the embattled founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" video franchise, has been hit with a $5,000 daily sanction by a bankruptcy court judge.

The fines are meant to compel Francis to return two luxury cars -- a Bentley Flying Spur and a Cadillac Escalade -- that belong to his former business, reports The Wall Street Journal. Girls Gone Wild was sold after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.

What is Francis's suitably "wild" reason for not being able to turn over the cars, and how do court sanctions work?

Cars Allegedly Taken by Mexican Strip Club Owner

Francis told the court that he is unable to provide the two cars because he no longer possesses them. According to court papers, Francis claims the cars were taken by a Mexican strip club owner following several failed promotions involving Girls Gone Wild.

This most recent court trouble is far from Francis' first brush with squandering the assets of his former company. The company's bankruptcy was fueled largely by Francis' unsuccessful, ongoing feud with gambling mogul Steve Wynn. After Wynn sued Francis for millions in outstanding gambling debts in 2008, Francis responded by claiming Wynn had deceived him into continuing to gamble, and then threatened him in an e-mail. Wynn twice sued for defamation and won millions in damages, on top of the gambling debts still owed by Francis.

Civil Contempt Sanctions

Contempt of court is the legal term for defying a court's authority or impeding the ability of the court to function. Contempt is divided into two different forms: criminal contempt and civil contempt. Criminal contempt sanctions seek to punish the individual in contempt of court, while civil contempt sanctions, such as the daily fine imposed on Francis, seek to restore the rights of the opposing party or move along the proceeding.

Those held in civil contempt generally must be given notice and an opportunity to dispute the contempt sanctions. Francis has appealed the judge's order, but in the meantime, the judge has set a July 31 hearing to see if Francis has returned the cars and to consider additional sanctions, including potentially issuing an arrest warrant for Francis.

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