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 Opinions Database

The court's 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
Adversary, Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Dischargeability, Nondischargeability     03/01/2023     Alvarado v. Chavez-Medina     

Plaintiffs filed a non-dischargeability complaint under § 523(a)(6) asserting that Defendant willfully and maliciously injured Plaintiffs by driving on the shoulder of the freeway at a high speed and crashing into Plaintiffs’ vehicle causing serious injuries to Plaintiffs. Defendant moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The Court agreed that Plaintiffs’ complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to meet the willful and malicious standard, which requires: 1) an intentional act and an intentional harm, or an intentional act undertaken with the subjective belief that the consequences of the act were substantially certain to occur (willful); and 2) an intentional, wrongful act taken without justification or excuse (malicious). Instead of dismissing the complaint, the Court granted Plaintiffs leave to amend under Rule 15.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Claim Preclusion, Issue Preclusion, Rooker-Feldman, Summary Judgment     02/15/2023     Richard Jaramillo     

Creditor filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that a prior state court foreclosure judgment precluded debtor from contesting its motion for relief from stay under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, claim preclusion, and issue preclusion. The Court denied the motion, concluding that Rooker-Feldman was inapplicable and creditor did not satisfy all elements necessary to apply either claim or issue preclusion.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Exemptions, Property of the Estate     02/10/2023     Gregory Jon Piskiel     

Debtor held a survivor benefit from his father’s pension plan. The benefit paid a monthly amount for the debtor’s life. Debtor claimed the interest exempt and the chapter 7 trustee objected. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the court rule that the interest was not property of the estate, pursuant to Sec. 541(c)(2), which excludes interests in spendthrift trusts.ex

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 11, Confirmation     02/06/2023     S-Tek 1, LLC     

The Court considered whether to confirm Debtor’s third plan of reorganization pursuant to § 1191(b), which governs non-consensual subchapter V plans. Under the plan, to defeat a creditor’s § 1111(b) election, Debtor proposed surrendering and replacing all or substantially all of the creditor’s collateral, which included the equipment and vehicles Debtor used to operate its business and most of its cash and accounts receivable. The Court found that Debtor failed to show it would have the financial ability to replace surrendered assets necessary for it to maintain its operations. Therefore, the Court denied plan confirmation for failure to meet the feasibility requirements of § 1129(a)(11) and § 1191(c)(3), made applicable by § 1191(b). 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 11     02/06/2023     S-Tek 1, LLC     

The United States Trustee and the Subchapter V Trustee objected to Debtor’s counsel’s fee application, arguing that the requested fees were not reflective of the results obtained. Debtor’s proposed chapter 11 plan proposed to pay attorney’s anticipated allowed unpaid fees of $210,00 in full at the rate of $5,000 per month while unsecured non-priority creditors would receive only $45,000 over five years. Debtor pursued an adversary proceeding that had the potential to eliminate its primary creditor’s claim and generate substantial funds for the estate, but the litigation was not successful. Had Debtor not pursued the litigation, Debtor’s business would have ceased and unsecured priority and non-priority creditors would have received nothing. The Court determined that under Tenth Circuit precedent, it was required to apply the Johnson factors, including the “results obtained” factor, as well as the § 330 factors to assess the reasonableness of requested fees. However, “results obtained” is only one factor, and the Court in its discretion may give whatever weight to that factor it deems appropriate under the circumstances of the case. In exercising its discretion, the Court determined after applying the §330 and Johnson factors that counsel’s fees should be allowed in the amount requested. Under the circumstances, where Debtor’s only viable alternative was to pursue the litigation in its effort to propose a plan that would provide a dividend to unsecured creditors, the attorney’s decision to perform the services was reasonable and appropriate when the services were rendered. The “results obtained”  included getting a decision on the merits of the adversary proceeding, which all parties agreed had to be resolved before the Court could hold a confirmation hearing, and valuation of the primary secured creditor’s collateral. Even though Debtor did not “win” the litigation, the litigation was of importance to the administration of the estate.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Abstention, Reconsideration, Remand     02/02/2023     Mitchell and Victoria Hawkes vs. Automated Recovery Systems of New Mexico, Inc., et al.     

Plaintiffs moved the court to reconsider its earlier decision not to abstain and remand a removed adversary proceeding. The court considered the issues raised and denied the motion.a

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Conversion, Discharge, Dischargeability, Summary Judgment     01/27/2023     Prizler v. Cain     

The Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment which sought a determination that the alleged debt at issue in the removed legal malpractice action constituted a pre-petition debt discharged in Plaintiff’s converted no-asset chapter 7 bankruptcy case.Under § 523(a)(3)(A) a pre-petition debt not of a kind specified in § 523(a)(2), (4), or (6) is discharged in a no-asset chapter 7 case notwithstanding a debtor’s failure to schedule or list the creditor. Under § 523(a)(3)(B) a pre-petition debt of a kind specified in § 523(a)(2), (4), or (6) is not discharged in a no-asset chapter 7 case if the creditor is not scheduled or listed under § 521(a)(1) and the creditor did not have notice or actual knowledge of Plaintiff’s bankruptcy case in time to timely file a complaint seeking a non-dischargeability determination under § 523(a)(2), (4), or (6). Plaintiff omitted Defendant from his bankruptcy schedules and mailing list because he allegedly did not know that Defendant would or might later sue him for legal malpractice. Defendant did not have notice or actual knowledge of Plaintiff’s bankruptcy case in time to timely file a complaint seeking a non-dischargeability determination under § 523(a)(2), (4), or (6). The facts not subject to genuine dispute did not establish that the conduct that gave rise to the alleged legal malpractice claim occurred prior to conversion or that the debt is not of a kind specified in § 523(a)(2), (4), or (6). No court has determined whether the debt in question falls within those subsections of § 523(a). Therefore, the Court could not conclude that the debt in question was discharged.

 

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
BAPCPA, Chapter 13, Dismissal or Conversion     01/20/2023     Christopher Charles Bartlett     

US Trustee moved to dismiss or convert a chapter 7 case under Sec. 707(b). The court granted the motion, finding: (1) debtor was limited to the IRS standard expenses for housing, not his actual expenses; (2) debtor could not claim a vehicle operation expense for a 5th wheel trailer; (3) Debtor’s “special circumstances” arguments based on those two expense items were without merit; and (4) the totality of the circumstances demonstrated abuse.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Dismissal, Reconsideration     01/13/2023     Jody Lee Beach and Rhonda B. Beach     

Creditor filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its earlier ruling denying creditor’s motion to dismiss the chapter 13 case because debtors had too much unsecured debt. The court reconsidered the matter and determined not to alter or amend its earlier conclusion that, of the two debts at issue, the first debt was unliquidated and the second debt had been waived. Or extinguished as of the petition date.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Administrative Claims, Breach of Contract, Chapter 11     01/12/2023     Henry Valencia, Inc.     

Claimants and Debtor entered into a post-petition oral agreement for repair to claimants’ van. Claimants filed an application for administrative expense based on Debtor’s  alleged improper repair and damage to their van while in Debtor’s possession. The Court determined that damages arising from a breach of a post-petition contract made in the ordinary course of a chapter 11 debtor’s business operations can constitute an administrative expense claim under § 503. Claimants did not meet their burden of proving that Debtor breached the oral contract’s implied warranty to use reasonable skill to complete the repairs, but established that Debtor breached the implied warranty to complete repairs within a reasonable time, entitling claimants to an allowed administrative expense for loss of use damages equal to the cost of renting a vehicle for the unreasonable period of delay, less the amount to be charged for repairs under the oral agreement to repair the van. 

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz

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