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
Dischargeability, Issue Preclusion     06/11/2024     Brookhouser v. Bostick     

The court granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on their non-dischargeability claim under § 523(a)(2)(A) based on the preclusive effect of a state court judgment. The findings and conclusions of the state court satisfied all non-dischargeability elements even though the claim was based on violations of the New Mexico Unfair Trade Practices Act (“NMUPA”), which does not require proof of fraudulent intent or justifiable reliance, elements necessary to sustain a non-dischargeability claim under § 523(a)(2)(A). the state court’s findings were necessary to conform the findings with the evidence. Further, the state court’s final judgment adjudicating plaintiffs’ claims under the NMUPA sufficiently established defendant’s fraudulent conduct under § 523(a)(2)(A). Consequently, the same issues to be decided in the non-dischargeability proceeding were actually litigated and necessarily determined in the state court action. Attorneys’ fees and costs awarded by the state court under the NMUPA and traceable to defendant’s fraudulent conduct were appropriately included in the non-dischargeable judgment. However, plaintiffs could not recover attorney’s fees incurred in prosecuting the adversary proceeding based on the same NMUPA fee-shifting statute because the adversary proceeding did not adjudicate plaintiffs’ claims under the NMUPA.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Abstention, Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Chapter 11, Claim Preclusion, Collateral Estoppel     06/04/2024     HRV Santa Fe, LLC v. Jay Wolf et al     

Member of the holding company for the Bishops Lodge Resort in Santa Fe brought a derivative action against the resort’s mezzanine lender and others, alleging breach of duty and other wrongs. Defendants removed the proceeding to district court. Plaintiff moved to remand the action to state court or for abstention. The court ruled that the removal was proper; that the court had “arising in” and “related to” jurisdiction over the claims, so remand was not required; that the elements of mandatory abstention were not met; and that there were insufficient grounds for permissive abstention. The background for the dispute was a successful chapter 11 case in Delaware had plaintiff objected to and opposed.

Judge David T. Thuma
Automatic Stay, Chapter 13, Classification of Claims, Confirmation, Nondischargeability     05/24/2024     John W. Davis     

Chapter 13 debtor separately classified student loan debt and proposed to cure the default under an alleged payment plan, including interest. The chapter 13 trustee objected. The Court ruled that the plan unfairly discriminated against the general unsecured claims (sec. 1322(b)(1) and violated sec. 1322(b)(10), which forbids paying interest on any unsecured claim unless all claims are paid in full.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Administrative Claims, Fees, Trustee     05/22/2024     Rebecca Cummings     

Former chapter 7 trustee moved for an award of $12,500 of trustee fees after case had been converted to a case under chapter 13. The former chapter 7 trustee had made no distributions while the case was pending in chapter 7, and therefore was not entitled to a commission under 11 U.S.C. § 326. The Court determined that §§ 330(a)(7) and § 326 do not preclude an award of trustee fees in these circumstances, and that the Court has authority to award reasonable compensation under § 330(a)(1). The Court applied the adjusted lodestar method to award (1) $1,800 in fees based on an hourly rate and time spent and (2) a $700 fee enhancement based, among other things, on the chapter 7 trustee’s diligent investigation and discovery of non-exempt assets and the importance of incentivizing chapter 7 trustees to engage in such work.  

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Automatic Stay, Relief from Stay, Standing     04/26/2024     Nicholas Kadlec and Casey Reid-Kadlec     

New Mexico attorney general moved for an order that the automatic stay did not apply to state court action brought prepetition against one of the debtors for violation of the Unfair Practices Act. The court ruled that certain counts were excepted from the stay under the “police power” exception, while other counts were not. For the counts that were stayed, the court found that cause had not been demonstrated to modify the stay. Finally, the court found that the attorney general lacked standing to bring certain common law counts, and seek certain remedies, on behalf of customers alleged harmed by the unfair trade practices.

Judge David T. Thuma
Automatic Stay, Relief from Stay, Standing     04/24/2024     NM Solar Group, Inc.     

New Mexico attorney general moved for an order that the automatic stay did not apply to state court action brought prepetition against one of the debtors for violation of the Unfair Practices Act. The court ruled that certain counts were excepted from the stay under the “police power” exception, while other counts were not. For the counts that were stayed, the court found that cause had not been demonstrated to modify the stay. Finally, the court found that the attorney general lacked standing to bring certain commonNM Sol law counts, and seek certain remedies, on behalf of customers alleged harmed by the unfair trade practices.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Assumption and Rejection, Executory Contract, Property of the Estate     04/05/2024     Chuck McCune and Chuthamard McCune     

Judgment lien creditor sought determination that the chapter 7 Debtors’ real estate contract—pursuant to which they are purchasing their residence—was deemed rejected pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 365(d)(1), and that the real estate contract was therefore terminated and not property of the estate. The Court held that it need not decide whether the real estate contract was an executory contract governed by § 365, because either way, the real estate contract is still in effect and is property of the estate. If the real estate contract is subject to § 365, it was automatically rejected pursuant to § 365(d)(1). The effect of the automatic rejection was a material breach, which the real estate contract seller waived by continuing to accept payments post-rejection. The real estate contract was modified by course of performance such that payments made by the Debtors directly to the seller’s mortgage lender constituted payments under the real estate contract.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Administrative Claims, Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13, Professionals, Professionals - Rule 2014(a) Disclosure     02/26/2024     Jon Floyd Crunk and Paula Jane Crunk     

Counsel for chapter 13 debtors filed a fee application after confirmation of the chapter 13 plan. The court allowed a portion of the fees and disallowed the remainder. One of the reasons for the partial disallowance was the inadequacy of counsel’s Rule 2014(a) disclosure. In addition, deductions were made to the charged hourly rate and the number of hours spent on the case.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 11, Conversion, Dismissal, Dismissal or Conversion     02/12/2024     Corley Nissan, LLC andn DM & KC, LLC     

The UST sought to dismiss or convert the debtors’ jointly administered chapter 11 cases based on the debtors’ failure to maintain insurance. The Court found that “cause” existed under § 1112(b)(4)(C) based on the Debtors’ failure to maintain appropriate insurance that poses a risk to the public or to the estate, but ultimately held that the “unusual circumstances” exception applied, and denied the motion. The Debtors committed to file a joint liquidating plan by a date certain committing to distribute the expected $3 million plus of surplus proceeds from the sale of one Debtor’s real property to the estate of the other Debtor to pay its creditors. This scenario is unusual. Debtors were justified in their failure to obtain both property and general liability insurance because of their inability to pay the premiums. The Court required the Debtors to cure the failure to maintain appropriate insurance within a reasonable time fixed by the Court as follows: 1) the Debtor with no real property and little personal property was required to abandon its personal property; and 2) the other Debtor was required to obtain general liability insurance on the real property. Creditors holding mortgage liens against the real property had or could obtain forced place insurance to protect their interests such that the Debtor’s failure to maintain property insurance, while not prudent, did not pose a material risk to the public or to the estate.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Abstention, Remand, Removal     02/08/2024     Dudley v. Armijo     

The Court exercised its authority to remand this adversary proceeding sua sponte pursuant to the equitable remand provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1452(b) applicable to removed claims related to bankruptcy cases. The same factors used to determine whether permissive abstention should be granted under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(c)(1) are used, to the extent relevant, to consider whether equitable remand is appropriate, in addition to a few other factors. Here, state law issues predominated, the removed case would have no effect on the bankruptcy estate, removal of the state court action that had already resulted in a final judgment upheld on appeal smacked of forum shopping, and the interests of judicial economy and comity weighed heavily in favor of remand.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz

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