Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm — realized in contempt on June 16 of a federal court docket’s 2019 injunction picture and 2020 consent decree — are learning civil contempt sanctions is at anxiousness of be pricey. They’ll even consist of incarceration in federal penal advanced.
The court docket wants Miller to pay a $250,000 handsome for contempt and reimburse USDA’s Meals Security and Inspection Service’s investigative costs incurred for the length of Could perchance and June of this 365 days of $14,436 at some point soon of the next 30 days. If he would now not contrivance instructed cost, there is a warning within the court docket’s picture about what may occur to Miller.
“In picture to originate defendants’ future compliance, by making them unsleeping of the seriousness of their violations and the penalties for future violations, defendants are ordered to pay to america, interior 30 days of the date of entry of this Whine — and pursuant to written instructions that america will provide to defendants — a handsome of $250,000, or face additional monetary and different penalties, perchance together with imprisonment of Amos Miller,” the picture warns.
And Desire Edward G. Smith of the Eastern District of Pennslyvania is now not accepting the depiction of Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm as a tiny-scale operation.
As a replacement, the farming operation that Miller runs from Bird-in-Hand, PA, is shown to be “major and interstate” with interstate gross sales of meat, poultry, and different meals merchandise.
“Besides his long-established Bird-in-Hand, PA, farm, Mr. Miller owns an adjoining farm that he purchased for $1.45 million in September 2020, for the length of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Miller testified that he financed $1.4 million of the obtain establish. He thus apparently establish down $500,000 on the time of obtain final 365 days,” according to court docket documents.
Furthermore disclosed is Miller’s 50 p.c co-ownership of Burke’s Garden Farms in Tazewell, VA. He purchased ownership of the Virginia farm in 2015 for $2.5 million.
Miller has a $200,000 line of credit and is for the time being making “major capital enhancements” on the Bird-In-Hand farm, together with a significant building to accommodate his daughters’ upcoming weddings. Miller testified building for the weddings will cost $100,000 to $200,000.
- Defendants Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm have engaged in behavior, as scrape forth within the findings, that violates the Meat Act, the Poultry Act, the Injunction Whine, and the Consent Decree.
- In violation of the Acts, the Injunction Whine, and the Consent Decree — on now not now not up to Could perchance 18, 2021, Could perchance 21, 2021, and Could perchance 25, 2021 — Miller’s slaughtered and now not now not up to partly processed, with out federal inspection, amenable red meat livestock, hogs, and chickens that were in a position to use as human meals, for the operate of promoting and offering for sale ensuing meat meals and poultry merchandise in commerce to Miller’s merchants’ club individuals.
- On the least a fraction of those illegally slaughtered merchandise that were red meat merchandise changed into once adulterated, in violation of the Meat Act, since the merchandise contained Specified Chance Materials (SRMs) that Miller’s had now not removed.
- Miller’s unlawful slaughtering job persevered — in violation of the Acts, the Injunction Whine, and the Consent Decree — even after FSIS told Amos Miller, for the length of a Could perchance 25, 2021, scrape discuss over with that his slaughtering job changed into once unlawful.
- Miller thereafter persevered to obtain and obtain from different areas are residing amenable animals for slaughter and sale or offer of sale.
- In violation of the Acts and the Injunction Whine, Miller’s would now not protect properly timed, detailed records that totally and precisely describe and chronicle, for amenable animals and ensuing merchandise: (a) animal purchases; (b) animal slaughter dates; and (c) different meat- and poultry-connected industrial transactions, together with the gross sales of Miller’s amenable meat and poultry merchandise.
- For amenable livestock, Miller’s, in violation of the Acts, would now not protect required floor red meat grinding logs or records documenting the ages of slaughtered cattle, the removal of SRMs, or the disposal of SRMs.
- Defendant Amos Miller, the alter ego of defendant Miller’s Organic Farm, has had files of the court docket’s Injunction Whine and Consent Decree nonetheless has all over again and all over again disobeyed those orders: (a) in techniques that are now not merely technical or inadvertent; (b) despite compliance with the orders being both required and feasible; and (c) despite FSIS constantly offering to abet him in coming into compliance and, in actuality, assembly with him in gradual 2020 in Lancaster, PA, to answer to his questions about moral necessities.
- Miller has persevered illegally to co-decide FSIS’s role and to peer to act as a law unto himself.
- Defendants’ continuing failures and refusals to follow this court docket’s Injunction Whine, the Consent Decree, and the Acts have flouted this court docket’s authority and the rule of thumb of law and have impaired and will proceed to impair the USDA’s and FSIS’s skill to satisfy their public properly being missions.
- Defendants’ continuing failures and refusals to follow this court docket’s Injunction Whine, the Consent Decree, and the Acts have precipitated FSIS investigators to come support multiple times to Miller’s Organic Farm in unsuccessful efforts to bring defendants into compliance, and have precipitated FSIS and USDA to incur connected unnecessary costs.
- “Sanctions for civil contempt are penalties designed to compel future compliance with a court docket picture, are regarded as to be coercive and avoidable via obedience, and thus shall be imposed in a protracted-established civil proceeding upon peer and an quite loads of to be heard[.]’”
- Civil contempt sanctions: (a) “may consist of fines, incarceration or a compensation of costs incurred while looking for to construct compliance;” and (b) is at anxiousness of be broken-down “to make amends for losses sustained by the disobedience,” which is able to consist of placing the moving celebration, equivalent to USDA FSIS right here, within the “scrape it can perchance were in had” Miller’s “finished what the court docket ordered him to originate.”
- On June 9, 2021, the court docket ordered defendants to picture trigger why they mustn’t be held in contempt, and the court docket held a listening to on June 16, 2021, allowing defendants to answer. After the court docket realized defendants in contempt following that listening to — a finding and conclusion that the court docket reiterates right here — the court docket held but some other listening to on June 23, 2021, allowing defendants to be heard on the scope of an appropriate contempt sanction. The court docket also gave defendants an quite loads of to answer to america’ proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and sanction picture, and the court docket additional held oral argument on an appropriate sanction.
- Upon consideration of the occasions’ proof and arguments, the next sanctions are valuable to deter defendants’ future violations and to try to bring them into compliance with the court docket’s orders.
- Besides defendants’ old post-Injunction Whine slaughtering job in early 2020, defendants, on the least, slaughtered for human consumption and commercial gross sales, and with out required federal inspection: (a) amenable red meat livestock on Could perchance 18, 2021; (b) amenable hogs on Could perchance 21, 2021; and (c) amenable chickens on Could perchance 25, 2021, and later dates.
- Even supposing the Injunction Whine’s penalty provisions and procedures originate now not bind the court docket when figuring out an appropriate civil contempt sanction, the court docket appears to be like to those provisions for guidance.
- The approximate weight of the lacking amenable red meat carcass associated with one in every of the red meat heads that FSIS detained on Could perchance 25, 2021, is 600 pounds. Below Injunction Whine Paragraph 16, despite the incontrovertible fact that the court docket were to stare the unlawful slaughter of the animal that resulted in that carcass as a “first event of such violation,” the penalty quantity may perchance be 600 pounds times $500, or $300,000. The quantity may perchance be doubled if the Court docket were to stare this, as it will, as a second such event.
- The approximate weight of the quite loads of amenable red meat livestock, poultry, and hog articles that FSIS detained on Could perchance 25, 2021, is 3,100 pounds. Below Injunction Whine Paragraph 16, despite the incontrovertible fact that the court docket were to stare the slaughter of the red meat livestock, chickens, and hogs ensuing in these articles because the first times of such violations, the penalty quantity may perchance be doubled
- Regarding defendants’ recordkeeping violations, despite the incontrovertible fact that the court docket were narrow to inquire highest at defendants’ failures to protect required records for removal of SRMs connected to the two amenable red meat livestock slaughtered at Miller’s with out federal inspection on Could perchance 18, 2021, and despite the incontrovertible fact that the court docket were to have in thoughts highest the lacking red meat carcass and now not the detained red meat heads, the penalty quantity beneath Injunction Whine Paragraph 17 for a first violation may perchance be the load of the lacking carcass, 600 pounds, times $500, or a total of $300,000. Again, this quantity may perchance be doubled if the court docket were to stare this, as it will, as a second such event.
Even supposing beneath the Injunction Whine and the Consent Decree the authorities may peer compensation of america Lawyer’s Station of job’s most fresh enforcement costs and USDA’s Station of job of the Overall Counsel’s most fresh enforcement costs in connection with this civil contempt proceeding, america is looking for highest FSIS’s Could perchance and June 2021 enforcement costs, which is $14,436.
In picture to originate defendants’ future compliance, defendants are ordered to pay to america, interior 30 days — and pursuant to written instructions that america will provide to defendants — the sum of $14,436 to reimburse FSIS’s enforcement costs, or face additional monetary and different penalties, perchance together with imprisonment of Amos Miller. This required cost is moreover the $250,000 handsome quantity ordered above.
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