Opinions

 

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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, Chapter 13, Discharge, Fraud     02/07/2024     UST v. Holman     

The UST sought to deny debtor’s discharge under § 727(a)(2) (transfer or concealment of property within a year of the petition or during the case with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor), § 727(a)(4)(A) (false oath or account), and § 727(a)(7) (acts proscribed by § 727(a)(2), (4) committed within a  year of the petition date in connection with another case concerning an insider). The Court allowed the UST to present evidence of an alleged fraudulent scheme under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) to the extent such evidence was relevant to prove the intent requirements necessary to deny debtor’s discharge. Notwithstanding substantial evidence of PPP loan improprieties, the Court found that debtor’s testimony was credible and concluded that the UST did not meet her burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that debtor, in connection with another bankruptcy case in which debtor was an insider, fraudulently made a false oath or account at the meeting of creditors, or caused or permitted the transfer of approximately $352,000 with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Costs, Costs of Litigation     01/26/2024     Christen Hagemann v. Paul Durkin     

Plaintiff prevailed in a declaratory judgment action that her guardian ad litem fees, one half of which were owed by debtor, were a nondischargeable domestic support obligation. Plaintiff asked the court to award her the attorney fees she incurred obtaining the declaratory judgment. The court ruled that, under the American Rule, Plaintiff was not entitled to the requested fees award, and no exception to the rule applied.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13, Employment of Professionals, Professionals - Rule 2014(a) Disclosure     01/19/2024     William Maldonado and Jennifer Rodriguez     

Chapter 13 debtor’s counsel filed a second fee application. The first fee application had been granted. The court reviewed the amounts billed for the first and second applications and compared the amounts to the results obtained in the case. The court disallowed most of the fees sought in the second application because the combined fees were too high for the relatively simple case.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Jurisdiction, Removal     01/08/2024     StoneX Commodity Solutions, LLC v. Thomas Bunkley, III     

The Court held that a notice of removal purporting to transfer a lawsuit from New Mexico federal district court to bankruptcy court was improper. The removal statute for bankruptcy-related matters, 28 U.S.C. 1452, permits matters to be removed to the federal district court—matters cannot be removed from the federal district court to the same federal district court. The Court also considered the argument that the lawsuit was automatically referred to bankruptcy court by the federal district court’s automatic referral order. However, because the lawsuit involved two non-debtor parties and would not have been in front of the Court absent the improper notice of removal, the Court transferred the lawsuit back to the federal district court. If the parties wish, they may file a motion with the district court to determine whether the lawsuit was covered by the automatic referral order or otherwise ask the district court to refer the lawsuit to bankruptcy court. The Court also addressed a “related to” jurisdictional issue.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Dischargeability, Nondischargeability, Summary Judgment     12/20/2023     Christen Hagemann v. Paul Durkin     

Plaintiff was appointed guardian ad litem in defendant/debtor’s divorce case, to represent the interests of defendant’s infant daughter. At the conclusion of the divorce and custody proceedings, defendant filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy case and took the position that the guardian ad litem fees he owed were dischargeable. Plaintiff argued that the fees were in the nature of child support and therefore nondischargeable. The court ruled that under Tenth Circuit precedence, the fees were nondischargeable child support.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Exemptions, Judicial Liens - Avoidance     12/12/2023     Michael R. Evans and Kelly N. Evans     

Debtor moved to avoid creditor’s judicial lien under sec. 522(f) as impairing debtors’ homestead exemption. Debtor argued that, when considering the sec. 522(f) motion, the court should rule that certain solar panels installed on the roof of the house were fixtures, so that the purchase money security interest in the solar panels was additional indebtedness encumbering the house. The court held that the solar panels were not fixtures but remained consumer goods after installation.

Judge David T. Thuma
BAPCPA, Chapter 13, Confirmation     12/07/2023     Venitia Moreno     

The Court held that the above-median-income Debtor who has no rent or mortgage expense but who pays for cell phone service and seasonal fuel costs is entitled to deduct the entire amount of the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard in computing disposable income. The Chapter 13 Trustee objected to confirmation of Debtor’s chapter 13 plan asserting that the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard is not “applicable” to Debtor because she has no mortgage or rent expenses and, therefore, she is not entitled any deduction under the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard. Her fiancé pays the mortgage on the home that he owns and where they jointly reside. The Court found that the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard is “applicable to Debtor” because she has as least one expense covered by the Standard.

The Court then addressed the division of the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard on Official Form 122C-2, which is mandatory. Form 122C-2 divides the Standard into “Mortgage or Rent Expenses” and “Insurance and Operating Expenses,” with separate deductible limits, in accordance with the UST’s division of the Standard. The Court found that the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard as adopted by the IRS is a single category and that mandating Debtor’s use of the separate categories for “Mortgage or Rent Expenses” and “Insurance and Operating Expenses” would impermissibly conflict with the Code. Nevertheless, the Court found that Form 122C-2 is valid because Line 10 allows a debtor without a mortgage or rent expense to claim the entire amount of the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard if the debtor claims that the UST’s division of the IRS Local Housing and Utilities Standard is incorrect and it affects the calculation of the debtor’s monthly expenses.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Appeals, Claim Objection, Due Process, Remand, Res Judicata     12/01/2023     Las Uvas Valley Dairies     

On remand, the court held that the county did not carry its burden of proving excusable neglect for a late-filed claim for prepetition livestock taxes and that the only reason to disallow the county’s application for allowance of an administrative expense is the administrative expense bar date in the confirmed plan of reorganization.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Automatic Stay, Chapter 13, Divorce/Separation, Proof of Claim, Res Judicata     10/27/2023     Steven D. Harrison     

Ex wife moved for stay relief in ex-husband’s chapter 13 case so she could return to state court and finalize the division of ex-husband’s retirement account. Debtor ex-husband opposed the motion, arguing that ex-wife did not get a property interest in the account, only a debt he owed her for half the value of the account. The court ruled that the divorce decree divided the retirement account so ex-wife’s half did not go into the bankruptcy estate. Stay relief granted.

Judge David T. Thuma
Administrative Claims, Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13, Employment of Professionals, Fees     10/20/2023     Angelito Uy Sepulvida and Maria Bituin Caranay     

Counsel for chapter 13 debtors filed a third fee application. The court reviewed the time spent, the results obtained, and the overall amounts billed and allowed in the case to date. The court allowed fees in about half the amount requested.

Judge David T. Thuma

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