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
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
Discovery, Garnishment, Standing, Summary Judgment, Valuation     07/10/2020     Paul E. Allen et all v. Capital One Bank     

Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendant creditor to recover garnished wages and for damages resulting from violation of the automatic stay. The Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding the recovery action moot because the wages were returned before Plaintiffs amended their complaint, and holding that Defendant’s actions in returning the wages did not violate the automatic stay.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Dismissal, Equitable Remedies, Property of the Estate     06/26/2020     Robert Marcus v. Dean L. Horton et al     

Debtors/Defendants moved for dismissal by judgment on the pleadings of a Plaintiff’s claim for recognition of a constructive trust. Plaintiff is the liquidating trustee of a dairy, formerly owned and controlled by Debtors.  Plaintiff claims that Debtors looted the dairy of its cash to build and furnish Debtors’ expensive house, thereby causing the dairy to fail.  The Court holds that Plaintiff’s allegations, the truth of which are assumed, are sufficient to state a claim for constructive trust.  The Court also addresses the opposing views expressed by courts and legal scholars on the viability of constructive trust claims in bankruptcy—an issue that is not dispositive at this stage of the pleadings, but which may arise in future litigation of Plaintiff’s claim.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Appeals, Chapter 11, Confirmation, Conversion     06/18/2020     Victor P. Kearney     

With a confirmed creditor plan of reorganization pending on appeal, Debtor moved to convert his chapter 11 case to chapter 7, asserting an absolute right of conversion.  The unsecured creditors’ committee and other interested parties opposed conversion, arguing that the motion was made in bad faith and should be denied; and alternatively arguing that if the motion is granted the case should be immediately reconverted to chapter 11.  The Court concludes that two exceptions exist to the purported “absolute right” of conversion—a bad faith exception and a confirmed creditor plan exception.  Because the facts of this case demonstrate that both exceptions apply, Debtor’s motion is denied.  The Court holds, further, that even assuming that Debtor’s right to convert is truly absolute, immediate reconversion would be appropriate to avoid irreparable harm to the creditors and the estate.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Damages, Nondischargeability, Res Judicata     06/11/2020     Greg Chavez v. Elaine Romero     

Plaintiff sought to hold defendant’s debt to plaintiff for damage caused to plaintiff’s rental property nondischargeable under § 523(a)(6), either based on a state court judgment for the plaintiff or based on the Court’s own findings. The Court found that defendant, acting in concert with her boyfriend, willfully and maliciously cut a water line in plaintiff’s property to cause water damage, and the Court grants judgment for the plaintiff.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Avoidance Actions, Summary Judgment     05/29/2020     Robert Marcus v. Nathan Segal and Co., Inc.     

Parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment regarding whether an avoidance action was barred by the statutes of limitations imposed by 11 U.S.C. §§ 546(a)(2) and 550(f)(2). The Court found the statutes of limitations applicable and found for Defendant because neither the “properly and finally closed” exception nor equitable tolling applied and because the Plaintiff did not try to set aside the final decree under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9024.

Judge David T. Thuma
Contract Interpretation, Relief from Stay     05/22/2020     Jackie Don Roberts and Vickie Mae Roberts     

A lessor of farm equipment sought relief from the automatic stay so that he could pick up the leased equipment from the debtors, who had defaulted the lease payments and who had not proposed to assume the lease and cure the defaults.  The primary issue before the Court was whether, under the Uniform Commercial Code, the equipment lease was a true lease or a secured transaction disguised as a lease.  Concluding that it was a true lease, the Court granted the lessor’s motion for stay relief without prejudice to the debtors’ right to file an immediate motion to assume the lease and cure defaults.  

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 12, Setoff, Turnover     05/20/2020     Jackie Don Roberts and Vickie Mae Roberts     

The United States Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency moved for relief from the automatic stay so that it could set off its obligation to make subsidy payments to Debtors with Debtors’ obligations to it under a note and mortgage.  Debtors Objected to the Motion and sought  an order requiring the movant to turn over the subsidy payments.  The Court held that setoff is not permitted because movant’s obligation to Debtors arose postposition while Debtors’ obligation to the movant arose prepetition.  Movant is, therefore, prohibited from exercising its setoff rights.  Movant’s motion is denied.  Debtors’ motion for turnover is granted.

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Remand     05/18/2020     Edward Lucero v. Richard L. Lucero and Boy Scouts of America     

Application of the permissive abstention factors supported equitable remand of Plaintiff’s claims against non-debtor defendant only to state court. The Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for remand. Claims against the debtor-defendant were not remanded.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz

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