Opinions

 

All court opinions may be accessed at no charge via PACER through the "Written Opinions" link on the Reports page. You must, however, have an account to access the report via CM/ECF or PACER.

Access to opinions from 1997 to present, that are PDF searchable, unrestricted & unsealed, are also available through the Government Printing Office using the Advanced Search for Government Publications. There is no login required and publications are available free of charge.


Court's Web Site Opinions Database

The court's web site provides free access of some opinions, at the discretion of the judges, for the years 1998 to present. The results shown below are automatically displayed for all years, all judges, and all keywords/topics.

A search may be performed using the Search box above, or filtering by year, judge, and/or keyword/topic. To search for more than one judge and/or keywords/topics simultaneously, hold down the Ctrl key (or Command key) and select each item.

Keywords/Topic Date Title Description Judge
Automatic Stay, Equitable Remedies, Jurisdiction     09/17/2021     Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe     

Creditor sought relief from the automatic stay to file an adversary proceeding seeking various forms of equitable relief with the overarching goal of removing his name from a list of “Priests, Deacons, and Religious Accused of Sexual Abuse of Children” that was published online and in local and national newspapers. Debtor may wish to file a defamation claim. The Court has jurisdiction over defamation claims that can be resolved by the application of neutral principles of civil law. Were Creditor to prevail in a defamation claim, injunctive relief might be available if damages were an inadequate remedy. Because Creditor was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a “minor child,” claim that was settled instead of adjudicated untrue, it is unlikely that Creditor would prevail in a defamation claim. The other forms of relief that Creditor would seek are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Catholic Church’s tribunals. This Court is barred by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine from intervening in matters of the Catholic Church’s laws, precedents, usages and customs. Moreover, Creditor may not mount a collateral attack, in this Court, on the Catholic Church’s determination that his name is properly included on the list. For these reasons, cause does not exist to lift the automatic stay.

Judge David T. Thuma
Cause, Chapter 11, Dismissal, Good Faith, Subchapter V     09/02/2021     In re S-Tek 1, LLC     

In a motion to dismiss, creditor Surv-Tek, Inc. asserted that Debtor’s bankruptcy case must be dismissed because Debtor filed the case in bad faith merely to gain a strategic litigation advantage in a dispute with Surv-Tek after the state court entered an order in favor of Surv-Tek. The Court analyzed the totality of the circumstances and determined that Debtor’s bankruptcy case served a legitimate bankruptcy purpose: to preserve Debtor’s ongoing business and preserve jobs. The Court also found that the petition was not filed merely to obtain a litigation advantage and that Debtor’s pre-petition conduct and other factors were either neutral or did not weigh heavily toward dismissal. The creditor also argued that the case should be dismissed because Debtor’s proposed plan is not confirmable on its face. The plan relied on 11 U.S.C. § 510(b) to subordinate part of Surv-Tek’s claim. The Court found that § 510(b) was not applicable to the transaction at issue as a matter of law but that fact did not establish that Debtor is unable to propose a confirmable plan. Debtor may amend the plan to address the creditor’s claim without reliance on § 510(b). Finally, Surv-Tek argued that Debtor’s principal had falsely testified, demonstrating Debtor’s bad faith in pursuing its bankruptcy case. The Court found that Debtor’s principal had not willfully testified falsely. The Court denied the motion to dismiss.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Claim Objection     08/31/2021     JB and Company Chevron, LLC     

New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department was not permitted to amend its timely filed proof of claim after 1) expiration of the claims bar date; 2) confirmation of debtor’s plan; and 3) entry of sale order authorizing the sale of a liquor license that provided for payment of NMTR’s then existing claim in full. The Court relied on equitable considerations, including another creditor’s detrimental reliance on the amount of NMTR’s timely filed claim, to disallow the untimely amended claim.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary, Dischargeability, Fraudulent Transfers, Ponzi Scheme Issues, Summary Judgment     08/20/2021     Nationwide Judgment Recovery Inc. v. Angel Grimaldo     

The plaintiff-assignee of a foreign judgment and the debtor-defendant filed cross motions for summary judgment as to the dischargeability of the judgment debt, which stemmed from net profits the debtor made from investing in a Ponzi scheme. Because whether or not the debtor intended to defraud others when he accepted the profits is a material fact at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate for either party.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Claim Preclusion, Default Judgment, Dischargeability, Issue Preclusion     08/12/2021     Taeki Martin v. Ramin Zamani-Zadeh     

Plaintiff sought summary judgment on her claim that an Oregon state court default judgment against Debtor is nondischargeable. In support of her motion, plaintiff relied on the principles of claim and issue preclusion. Claim preclusion does not apply to Section 523(a) claims. Although issue preclusion may apply to such claims, the judgment in this case does not satisfy the requisite standards. Plaintiff’s nondischargeability claim is based on fraud, false pretenses, and false representation. The state court judgment was based on Plaintiff’s Oregon state law claim of “financial abuse of a vulnerable person.”  The judgment does not demonstrate an identity of issues between this and the former proceeding, nor it show that the issues underlying Plaintiff’s nondischargeability claim were actually litigated and essential to the state court judgment. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is denied.  

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Avoidance Actions, Fraudulent Transfers, Preference     08/06/2021     Philip J. Montoya v. Margaret Dubbin     

Trustee sought to avoid repayment of Debtor’s 401(k) loan on the eve of bankruptcy as preferential and/or fraudulent, and Debtors moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that there were no transactions and no debtor/creditor relationship created between a debtor and her retirement plan. Following Johnson v. Home State Bank, 501 U.S. 78 (1991); In re Buchferer, 216 B.R. 332 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 1997); and BAPCPA, the Court held that nonrecourse loans can establish a debtor/creditor relationship, that the conversion of non-exempt to exempt assets can form the basis of a § 548 claim, and that borrowing from one’s 401(k) plan is much more complex than borrowing from oneself. Thus, at the motion to dismiss stage, the trustee has pleaded claims for which relief may be granted.

Judge David T. Thuma
Summary Judgment     08/05/2021     WBL SPE II, LLC v. APSCO, INC., et al     

Plaintiff sought a judgment that two promissory notes (the “Notes”) and two mortgages (the “Mortgages”) securing the Notes are valid and enforceable against Jesse Lane Properties, LLC (“JLP”) and its Property, including that Debtor Belenda M. Lane had either actual or apparent authority to execute such contracts on behalf of JLP. During the negotiations for the first promissory note, the lender received an opinion letter, purportedly from an attorney, in which the author represented that Ms. Lane had authority to execute the first note and mortgage on behalf of JLP. The purported opinion letter did not contain the usual elements of opinion letters by attorneys. The Court found that genuine disputes of material facts persist as to 1) whether Ms. Lane acted in whole or in part for the benefit of JLP, and therefore within the scope of her actual authority, when she executed the Notes and Mortgages and 2) whether it was reasonable for Plaintiff to rely on Ms. Lane’s representations of her authority after it received the purported opinion letter. The Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and, under Rule 7056(g) and pursuant to Plaintiff’s request, deemed the facts not in genuine dispute set forth in the Court’s opinion to be established for all purposes in this case, including for trial.sum

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Chapter 13, Dischargeability, Issue Preclusion     08/05/2021     Sergejev v. Alderman     

The Court granted Plaintiff’s supplemental motion for summary judgment determining that a state court award of attorneys’ fees was entitled to preclusive effect and was appropriately included as part of the non-dischargeable judgment attributable to Defendants’ non-dischargeable conduct under § 523(a)(6). The state court entered a separate judgment for attorneys’ fees following entry of a damages judgment after trial. The Court determined that Defendants had a full and fair opportunity to litigate whether Plaintiff was entitled to attorneys’ fees at the trial in which Defendants failed to appear. The Court determined further that Defendants were not entitled to attorneys’ fees under § 523(d), which applies only to claims under § 523(a)(2). Plaintiff’s complaint included claims under both § 523(a)(2)(A) and (a)(6) based on the same conduct and the same state court judgment; the Court granted judgment under § 523(a)(6) only; and Defendants had to defend the claim under § 523(a)(6) regardless of Plaintiff’s additional claim asserted under § 523(a)(2).

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Automatic Stay     08/04/2021     Kathryn Lovato     

The Court denied creditor’s request for relief from the automatic stay under § 362(d)(1) and § 362(d)(4). Debtor filed a prior chapter 7 case six years earlier, failed to disclose a second rental property on two loan modification applications submitted to creditor, made only one payment on the two loan modifications, and filed a second bankruptcy case under chapter 13 on the eve of a scheduled foreclosure trial. Creditor asserted that debtor intentionally undervalued the property subject to the creditor’s second lien in her bankruptcy schedules so that she could seek to strip off creditor’s mortgage through her chapter 13 plan. The Court could not determine the value of the property because creditor’s appraiser made an extraordinary assumption concerning the property’s condition. The Court determined that debtor’s conduct did not rise to the level of bad faith necessary to constitute “cause” for relief from the stay under § 362(d)(1) and did not evidence a scheme to hinder, delay, or defraud creditor sufficient to grant in rem stay relief under § 362(d)(4). Debtor’s schedules showed changed circumstances in her financial condition, and property valuation would be determined at confirmation.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Costs of Litigation, Discovery, Fees, Reconsideration     07/29/2021     Barry J. Byrnes v. Sylvia Marie Byrnes     

 

Two days after the court’s entry of a protective order which, inter alia, ordered Plaintiff to pay the attorney fees incurred by Defendant in connection with the motion for a protective order, the Plaintiff filed a motion seeking reconsideration. Plaintiff’s reasons for seeking reconsideration are not well taken, and the motion is denied. Plaintiff, who is bordering on becoming a vexatious litigant, is admonished to comply with the governing rules of procedure, to curb his overly aggressive litigation tactics, and to conduct himself with the appropriate level of decorum required for court proceedings.

Judge David T. Thuma

Pages