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
Chapter 11, Fees, Trustee     12/24/2019     MBF Inspection Services, Inc.,     

The Court granted motion for entry of a final decree over the objection of the U.S. Trustee’s Office that a final decree was inappropriate because the estate had not been fully administered.  The Court reached this conclusion after considering the several factors listed in the 1991 Advisory Committee notes to  BR 3022 and the significant burden on the Debtor of the U.S. Trustee’s fees which were charged at the much higher “alternative” rate set forth in 28 U.S.C. Section 1930(a)(6)(B).

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Administrative Claims, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Dismissal or Conversion, Settlement     12/19/2019     Jackie Don Roberts and Vickie Mae Roberts     

Debtors, who are farmers, filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11 because their aggregate debt exceeded the then-applicable debt limit in Section 108(18) and rendered them ineligible to file a chapter 12 case.  When the Family Farmer Relief Act raised the debt limit to $10 million, debtors became eligible for chapter 12.  After a period of contentious litigation, Debtors and their creditors negotiated a settlement, which included an agreement that Debtors would convert their case from chapter 11 to chapter 12.  Debtors’ former attorney, an administrative claimant, filed the only objection to conversion.  The Court overruled the objection on the ground that the bases therefor were unfounded.  The Court granted Debtors’ motion to convert based on its finding that conversion was fair and equitable to all parties.   

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Default Judgment, Nondischargeability, Summary Judgment     12/13/2019     Gretchen Welch v. David Tracy Giron     

Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, asking that her California state default judgment against debtor-defendant (domesticated in New Mexico) be found to be nondischargeable. The Court denies plaintiff’s motion because while the state court judgment definitively established the amount of the debt, the Court will not grant issue preclusive effect to the state court judgment, and a judgment for plaintiff would be inequitable under these facts.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Abandonment, Assumption and Rejection, Due Process, Jurisdiction, Valuation     12/04/2019     Leobardo Munoz and Maria Elena Munoz     

Debtors filed motion to assume a real estate contract for the purchase of an unimproved lot.  In a 2008 chapter 7 case, Debtors failed to disclose their interest in the real estate contract which, therefore, remained property of the chapter 7 estate.  If Debtors wish to assume the real estate contract, they must re-open the 2008 chapter 7 case, amend their schedules, and seek abandonment of the real estate contract.  In the present case, moreover, Debtors failed to comply with service-of-process rules and thereby deprived the owner of the unimproved lot notice of the bankruptcy and of the motion to assume.  Without proper service of process, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the property owner.  The motion to assume is denied.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Dischargeability, Proof of Claim     11/14/2019     Kenric L. Redfearn     

Debtor objected to his ex-wife’s proof of claim arising from an “equalization payment” provision of the marital settlement agreement.  Debtor argued that the equalization payment was a property settlement dischargeable in Chapter 13.  Debtor’s ex-wife argued that the equalization payment was a non-dischargeable domestic support obligation.  Evidence presented at a final hearing on the matter indicated that the equalization payment was intended as support for Debtor’s ex-wife, who could not otherwise afford basic necessities, and who took a significantly smaller distribution of community property in exchange for the equalization payment.  Debtor’s objection was overruled.   

Judge David T. Thuma
Judicial Estoppel, Property of the Estate, Public Utility, Res Judicata, Sales of Assets     10/25/2019     Clark C. Coll v. Picacho Hills Development Co., Inc.     

Trial held to determine whether a contracted-for conveyance of real property title for cash was in improper post-petition transfer based on bankruptcy and state law; whether the contract transferred water rights as additional consideration for the title; whether state court proceedings curtailed this Court’s jurisdiction; and whether this Court should revisit an earlier judgment that was affirmed on appeal.  The Court concludes that the state court actions do not limit this Court’s ability to rule; that the exchange of cash for title was improper but that no water rights changed hands; and that the Court will not alter the earlier judgment.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Due Process, Employment of Professionals, Fees     10/24/2019     Victor P. Kearney     

Debtor sought to employ criminal defense counsel using estate funds.  The Court denied the request because employing criminal defense counsel would be of no benefit to the Debtor’s bankruptcy estate, the requirements of Sections 327(a) and (e) were not otherwise satisfied, and Debtor’s Sixth Amendment rights do not trump the “benefit to the estate” requirement.

Judge David T. Thuma
Good Faith, Statutory Construction     10/11/2019     Jody and Richard Garcia     

Debtor  signed an Endorsement Agreement guaranteeing a $1.8 million loan that her father used mostly to finance the rehabilitation of a ski mountain and resort.  She was to get ten percent of the profits from the ski area—either from operating profits or from sale of parcels.  Debtor was motivated to help her father, but also motivated by profit.  When the father defaulted on the loan, the Debtor attempted to repay it, but ultimately filed for bankruptcy.  Debtor sought to reconvert Chapter 13 bankruptcy to Chapter 7, and Bank argued that under 11 USC Section 707(b), Debtor’s case must be dismissed for abuse because the debt was a consumer debt.  The main issue is whether the debt is consumer or non-consumer debt, and this opinion synthesizes the case law and sets forth several considerations that factor into a court’s resolution of the issue of whether debt is “consumer” or “non-consumer.”  Court held that debt is a non-consumer debt, and therefore allowed conversion to chapter 7, and denied Bank’s motion to dismiss.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Abandonment, Classification of Claims, Exemptions, Good Faith     10/04/2019     Michael Allen Holley     

Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. Section 544(c) only property that is properly scheduled on schedules A and B can be deemed abandoned.  The debtor in this case mentioned an accident from which he suffered personal injury on his Schedule I only.  He settled his personal injury claim for $1.6 million.  In a subsequent bankruptcy case, the debtor attempted to claim exemptions under 11 U.S.C. Section 522(d) in property purchased with the proceeds of the personal injury settlement.  The Court held that: (1)  the trustee did not abandon the personal injury claim to the Debtor; (2) the exemptions are not allowable because they were purchased with the ill gotten gains of an innocent misrepresentation, at best, or a bankruptcy crime, at worst; and (3) in the alternative, the exemptions were not allowable on their merits.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Due Process, Proof of Claim, Service, Standing     10/03/2019     Kyu Dong Park and Woo Jung Lee     

Foreign claimant filed a proof of claim, the trustee objected, the claimant did not respond but the debtors did, alleging that they had standing and that the procedure of notifying the claimant was unfair. The Court held that notice was proper and that while the trustee can respond to claim objections, the debtors cannot, so the Court strikes debtors response and allows claimant 30 days to respond.

 

Judge David T. Thuma

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