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, Fraudulent Transfers, Property of the Estate, Standing, Turnover     10/09/2020     Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe     

The UCC moved for authority to bring fraudulent transfer and turnover claims against parties after the Debtor-in-possession refused to do so. The Court concluded that it was within the Court’s power and was appropriate to grant derivative standing to the UCC to assert the claims, and that potential affirmative defenses would not forestall the UCC at this stage but could be considered if and when the Court reaches the merits of the UCC’s claims.

Judge David T. Thuma
Automatic Stay, Chapter 13, Miscellaneous, Statutory Construction     10/02/2020     Sandra Joyce McGrath and Dale Allen Rogers     

Debtors and their mortgage lender disputed whether the Court should follow a 10th Circuit BAP decision and hold that, per 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3), Debtors’ stay terminated only with respect to actions taken against the Debtors, or whether the Court should follow case law in other circuits holding that the stay terminated with respect to estate property as well. The Court determined (1) that 10th Circuit BAP decisions, while persuasive, cannot bind bankruptcy courts within the circuit, and (2) that based on statutory interpretation and bankruptcy policy, the stay did not terminate with respect to estate property.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Administrative Claims, Chapter 11, Classification of Claims, Extension of Time, Res Judicata     09/18/2020     Las Uvas Valley Dairies     

Creditor moved to amend its proof of claim after the claims bar date and to file an application for administrative expenses post plan confirmation. The Court denied the motion and application, finding that (1) whether the creditor’s motion was treated as a request to amend or a request to file a new claim, equitable considerations barred the action, and (2) the terms of the plan and confirmation order were res judicata and the creditor could not tardily file an application for administrative expenses, notwithstanding statutory authority that would allow such application.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Costs, Dischargeability, Divorce/Separation, Separation Agreement     09/11/2020     Heather McDonald v. Stephen McDonald     

In connection with their divorce, Plaintiff Heather McDonald and Debtor/Defendant Stephen McDonald entered into a marriage settlement agreement (“MSA)” in which Debtor agreed to assume certain debts (the “Debts”). Debtor thereafter filed Bankruptcy Case No. 20-10755 and ultimately the Court granted Debtor a discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 727. When Debtor did not pay the Debts, Plaintiff filed an adversary complaint seeking a determination that the Debts are non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(15). The Court held that, although Debtor’s obligations to the creditors were discharged under § 727, his obligations to Plaintiff under the MSA were not, and that, pursuant to the MSA, Plaintiff is entitled to reimbursement of the amounts paid on Debtor’s behalf. The Court also granted in part Plaintiff’s request for costs and ordered Debtor to pay a portion of the filing fee for the adversary proceeding.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Automatic Stay, Injunctions, Relief from Stay, Sanctions     09/08/2020     Motiva Performance Engineering, LLC     

Creditor sought a comfort order seeking a determination that the automatic stay did not prohibit him from pursuing contempt proceedings in state court against non-debtor codefendants for allegedly violating the state court’s prepetition preliminary injunction.   The Court held that the automatic stay does not apply to the non-debtor codefendants.  If automatic stay did apply, however, cause exists to allow creditor to proceed.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Avoidance Actions, Valuation     08/27/2020     Yvette J. Gonzales, v. Timothy Delgado et al     

Chapter 7 trustee sought to recover approximately $1.2 million transfers taken as shareholder distributions by defendants who were the owners of Debtor—a consumer lending and retail furniture business—on the theory that the business was insolvent in the two-year prepetition period during which the distributions were made.  Finding no evidence that business was on its “deathbed” during the transfer period, the Court rejected the trustee’s argument that the fair value of Debtor’s assets was their liquidation value as opposed to their going concern value.  Holding that the trustee failed to carry the burden of proving Debtor’s insolvency during the transfer period, the Court entered judgment in favor of the defendants   

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13     08/20/2020     Stephen Guajardo and Roberta Garcia- Guajardo     

Debtors’ objected to their former counsel’s fee application for work done in their bankruptcy case and an adversary proceeding. The Court awarded all of the requested amount, concluding that counsel’s work on the case was necessary, beneficial, and reasonable.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Cause, Due Process, Extension of Time, Good Faith, Proof of Claim     07/31/2020     Raymond Calvin Wooten and Kathy Riddle Wooten     

Creditor moved for allowance to file a late proof of claim after the claims bar date had run. Considering that issues beyond the creditor’s control prevented it from receiving notice of the Debtors’ bankruptcy until after the claims bar date, and that the creditor took quick, appropriate action upon learning of the bankruptcy, the creditor successfully rebutted the mailbox presumption and showed that the motion should be granted for cause and because creditor’s neglect was excusable.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Exemptions, Garnishment, Preference, Property of the Estate     07/24/2020     Kelli Denise Allen and Paul Eugene Allen     

Debtors sought to exempt (1) garnished wages under a state garnishment exemption statute and (2) an enclosed trailer under a “tool of the trade” exemption and the case trustee objected to both. The Court sustained the trustee’s objections because (1) wages cannot be exempt under the statute once paid by the employer, the exemption could not be used to shelter the debtors’ preference claim, and debtors were attempting to apply the exemption to the non-exempt portion of husband’s wages, and (2) because the trailer was used by the debtors, not in their trade, but in their hobby business that did not contribute substantially to their income.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Contract Interpretation, Damages     07/17/2020     Edward Mazel et al v. Las Cruces Abstract and Title Company et al     

The Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, a title insurance company, on plaintiff’s breach of contract claim.  The claim was based on a policy of title insurance that excluded from coverage any loss caused by an encumbrance created, suffered, assumed or agreed to by the insured claimant.  The undisputed material facts show that the plaintiff, by knowledge imputed through its agent, suffered or assumed the encumbrance that allegedly caused the loss claimed by plaintiff. Plaintiff also failed to produce evidence of actual damages—an essential element of a breach of contract claim.

 

Judge David T. Thuma

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