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District court's denial of a contempt motion for lack of privity arising from 1966 civil-contempt proceedings
Nat'l Spritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U.S.A. Under the Hereditary Guardianship, Inc. v. Nat'l Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U.S.A. , Inc., 08-2306, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of a contempt motion on the ground that all nonparties to the original lawsuit lacked privity with the original defendant, in an appeal from a civil-contempt proceeding alleging violations of an injunction entered more than four decades ago, arising from an underlying suit involving a trademark and property dispute between two religious organizations.
In affirming, the court held that, although the district court should have applied Merriam, which held that a former employee of an enjoined corporation had such a key role in the company and in the underlying litigation that he could be "legally identified" with the enjoined corporation and therefore held in contempt for using a newly formed company to circumvent the injunction, the judge's findings are thorough enough to resolve the privity question without a remand. Here, the respondent nonparty religious groups and their principals are not sufficiently identified in interest with the original defendant to permit a conclusion that they had their day in court back in 1966.