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 13, Good Faith     03/31/2016     Ely Yao     

Debtor who had completed 54 of 58 payments under his confirmed Chapter 13 plan and then voluntarily converted from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, sought to reconvert to Chapter 13 to complete the remaining payments under the confirmed Chapter 13 plan.  The Chatper13 Trustee objected on grounds that conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 nullified the confirmed plan and that the Debtor had not demonstrated that he sought to reconvert in good faith.  The Court held that conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 does not nullify, terminate, or vacate a confirmed Chapter 13 plan.   Rather, the provisions of Chapter 13 making the plan binding simply no longer apply upon conversion to Chapter 7 and again become applicable upon reconversion to Chapter 13.  The surrounding facts and circumstances satisfied the good faith analysis under the Marrama standard applicable to motions to convert under § 706.   The Court granted the Debtor’s motion to reconvert for the purpose of completing the remaining payments under the original confirmed plan.  The Court expressly did not decide whether reconversion is barred per se.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Chapter 11, Contract Interpretation     03/28/2016     Sunnyland Farms, Inc.     

Creditor asked Court to interpret ambiguous confirmed plan to allow him to receive stock rather than cash. Using applicable contract interpretation principles, the Court interpreted the plan to allow the creditor to receive stock.

Judge David T. Thuma
Employment of Professionals     03/14/2016     Quick Cash, Inc.     

Any attorney who forms an attorney-client relationship with the debtor and who provides legal advice to the debtor is required to make the disclosures required by 11 U.S.C. §329, and the debtor must seek approval of such attorney’s employment under 11 U.S.C. § 327(a), even if the attorney is acting in a consulting capacity, had been retained by a third party, and does not intend to seek compensation for such services from the bankruptcy estate.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Discharge Injunction, Jurisdiction, Reconsideration, Standing     03/10/2016     Tammy Sprague, personal representative of the estate of Fred Dale Van Winkle v. Williams et al     

Defendants asked the Court to reconsider its order denying their motion to dismiss the adversary proceeding for lack of jurisdiction.  Since the order was interlocutory, the Court reviewed it under a discretionary standard and declined to reconsider.  The Court found that reopening the bankruptcy case was unnecessary since the adversary proceeding was filed while the main case was open.  The Court also determined that the personal representative of the deceased debtor's estate had standing to assert a violation of the discharge injunction, and that the claim did not require a jury trial. stand

Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 11, Fees, Professionals     03/03/2016     Steven Howard and Judy Pimentel     

UST objected to the final fee application of debtor's counsel, arguing that the fees were not reasonable because there was no way debtor could confirm a plan of reorganization.  The Court sustained the objection in part, holding that the debtor had a chance to confirm a plan during much of the case, but that the debtor's second amended plan had no chance of being confirmed.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Reconsideration, Statutory Construction     02/19/2016     Gloria L. Marcott     

Chapter 13 Debtor asked the Court to set aside dismissal order entered pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 521(i), prompted by Debtor’s failure to file a “Chapter 13 Statement of Current Monthly Income” within 45 days of the petition date.  The Court concluded the Chapter 13 statement of current monthly income (commonly known as "Form B22") is not required by § 521(i).  In Chapter 13 cases, that form is required by Bankruptcy Rule 1007.  Because Debtor's failure to provide the statement of current monthly income should not have triggered "auto-dismissal" under § 521(i)(1), the Court vacated the dismissal order and reinstated the Chapter 13 case.

Judge David T. Thuma
Relief from Stay     02/11/2016     Kadlubek Family Revocable Living Trust     

Creditor sought relief from stay under Section 362(d)(2) to continue a foreclosure action on a commercial property. The Creditor asserted that the Debtor lacked equity in the property and the property was not necessary to an effective reorganization.   The Court found that although the Debtor lacked equity in the property, the property was necessary to an effective reorganization. The property was necessary in that it furthered the interests of the estate in the Chapter 11 plan of liquidation, and there was a reasonable possibility of a successful reorganization within a reasonable time.

Judge David T. Thuma
Cause, Chapter 11, Dismissal     02/05/2016     Sandia Resorts, Inc.     

Court dismissed Chapter 11 bankruptcy case for “cause” under 11 U.S.C. § 1112(b), finding that the debtor’s second chapter 11 case filed for the purpose of restructuring debt with its principal lender that had already been restructured through a substantially consummated plan in a prior chapter 11 case was an impermissible attempt to circumvent the prohibition against post-substantial consummation modifications contained in 11 U.S.C. § 1127.  None of the justifications the debtor offered in support of its good faith in filing its second chapter 11 case were sufficient to fall within the generally recognized exception of unforeseeable or unanticipated changed circumstances that affect a debtor’s ability to perform under a confirmed plan in a prior Chapter 11 case.   None of the other recognized exceptions applied.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Dischargeability, Nondischargeability, Statutory Construction     02/04/2016     Esparsen v. Esparsen et al     

Debtor filed an adversary proceeding seeking a determination that a debt was dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(15).  Debtor-Plaintiff was ordered to pay his ex-wife (the Defendant) a net equalization payment as part of the allocation of property in their divorce proceeding.  When the Defendant failed to pay her attorney, the state court judge ordered Debtor to pay the equalization payment directly to Defendant's attorney.  In the adversary proceeding, Debtor argued the debt was dischargeable because it was no longer payable to a former spouse.  On Defendant's request, the Court dismissed the adversary proceeding.  The Court found that the debt was nondischargeable under § 523(a)(15) because the payment by the Debtor to Defendant's attorney pursuant to a charging lien was an indirect payment to Defendant. 

Judge David T. Thuma
Discharge Injunction, Public Utility, Sanctions     02/03/2016     Allan and Tisha Sanchez     

Utility company violated the discharge injunction under Section 524 when it discontinued the debtor's trash pick-up service, refused to reinstate it, and demanded that debtor reaffirm the pre-petition debt.  The Court found that the refusal to provide utility service after the case is discharged and closed was not a per se violation of the bankruptcy code.  However, because utility companies hold monopoly powers, the disconnection of service often works to coerce repayment of prepetition debt.  The Court awarded $150 in actual damages and $3,800 in attorney fees to the debtors.

Judge David T. Thuma

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