United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
Bryan Harwell, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court for a ruling on Plaintiff's
“Motion for Extension of Temporary Restraining Order
and Request for a Hearing.” See ECF No. 5. The
Court heard and orally granted the motion earlier today,
now issues the instant Order in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P.
Brydger Defendants obtained a default judgment in Florida
against Plaintiff-a South Carolina citizen-for unpaid legal
fees and subsequently sent writs of garnishment issued by a
Florida court to Plaintiff's bank (Defendant TD Bank) and
investment advisor (Defendant Stifel Nicolaus). Plaintiff
then filed the instant action in the Florence County Court of
Common Pleas alleging the Brydger Defendants did not properly
domesticate the foreign Florida judgment in South Carolina,
and the S.C. state circuit court issued a temporary
restraining order (“TRO”) that expires today
(June 10, 2019) and enjoins Defendants Stifel Nicolaus and TD
Bank from disbursing Plaintiff's funds/assets. On June 4,
2019, Defendant Stifel Nicolaus then removed the action to
federal court, and on June 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed the
instant motion asking this Court to extend the
obtain a TRO, a plaintiff must show (1) he is likely to
succeed on the merits, (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable
harm absent the relief, (3) the balance of equities tips in
his favor, and (4) injunctive relief is in the public
interest. See Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); Real Truth About Obama,
Inc. v. FEC, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir. 2009),
vacated and remanded on other grounds, 559 U.S. 1089
(2010), reinstated in relevant part, 607 F.3d 355
(4th Cir. 2010). Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure governs the issuance and contents of a TRO.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b). A district court cannot issue a TRO
unless “the movant gives security in an amount that the
court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained
by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or
restrained.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c).
the first Winter factor, the Court finds Plaintiff
has made a “clear showing, ” Real Truth,
575 F.3d at 346, that he is likely to succeed on the merits
of his claim that the Brydger Defendants failed to comply
with South Carolina's Uniform Enforcement of Foreign
Judgments Act,  which “provides the mechanism for
the filing and enforcement of foreign judgments in South
Carolina.” Katzburg v. Katzburg, 764 S.E.2d 3,
5 (S.C. Ct. App. 2014) (summarizing the Act and how money
judgments are generally enforced in South Carolina). As for
the second Winter factor, the Court finds Plaintiff
has made a “clear showing, ” Real Truth,
575 F.3d at 347, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm
absent preliminary relief because his funds/assets would
otherwise be released to the Brydger Defendants and
potentially lost forever. As for the third Winter
factor, the Court finds Plaintiff has established that the
balance of equities tip in his favor because the Brydger
Defendants' burden of having to comply with South
Carolina law governing enforcement of foreign judgments
(which, as the Court noted at the hearing, is primarily a
matter of jumping through legal “hoops”) is
minimal compared to the harm of Plaintiff losing over $150,
000. Finally, regarding the fourth Winter factor,
the Court concludes Plaintiff has shown preliminary relief is
in the public interest because the Brydger Defendants-like
any other judgment creditor-should have to comply with South
Carolina law before collecting on a foreign judgment.
Florida judgment is also entitled to full faith and credit
pursuant to the U.S. Constitution. See U.S. Const.
art. IV. Freezing Mr. Dutton's Stifel Nicolaus account in
the amount of $160, 000 recognizes the public interest in an
unappealed and presumably valid judgment, as Plaintiff's
counsel indicated there has been no appeal or motion to
vacate or set aside the judgment in the Florida courts.
Freezing Mr. Dutton's Stifel Nicolaus account also
obviates the necessity of Plaintiff posting a security bond
and maintains the status quo of Plaintiff and the Brydger
Defendants, who claim to have a valid judgment as judgment
Court concludes Plaintiff has satisfied the four
Winter factors and therefore is entitled to a TRO.
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART
Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Temporary Restraining
Order and Request for a Hearing [ECF No. 5] and
ISSUES a temporary restraining order.
therefore ORDERED that Defendant Stifel
Nicolaus must hold the sum of $160, 000.00 in the Dutton
account and shall not disburse those funds to any party
without further order of the Court. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
65(b)(2), this TRO is good for fourteen days but may be
extended under Rule 65(b)(2). Plaintiff may also file a
motion for preliminary injunction.
Court encourages the parties to consider a consent order
regarding keeping Mr. Dutton's Stifel Nicolaus account
frozen in the above amount during the pendency of this case.
The Court notes this TRO applies with equal force to Mr.
Dutton, and he cannot access the Stifel Nicolaus funds
without further order of the Court.