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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.

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Keywords/Topic Date Title Description Judge
Breach of Contract, Claim Objection, Conversion, Equitable Remedies, Fraud     06/13/2022     S-Tek 1, LLC v. Surv-Tek, Inc. et al.     

The Debtor purchased a land surveying business from Surv-Tek, Inc. and signed a note payable to the seller in the amount of the purchase price less a down payment. The Debtor missed payments under the note and claimed that its financial difficulties resulted from the seller’s fraud and other misconduct. The Debtor commenced a chapter 11 case and removed state court litigation it had initiated to bankruptcy court.

The Court held a 9-day trial on all issues in the adversary proceeding (which included objections to claims) and on the Debtor’s motion to subordinate Surv-Tek’s claim under 11 U.S.C. 510(c). The Court imposed times limits on the parties at trial. Together, the parties asserted over 25 causes of action. The causes of action included, among other things, breaches of contracts, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, malicious abuse of process, violation of the Unfair Practices Act, and a claim for injunctive relief.

In a lengthy opinion, the Court ruled against the Debtor and guarantors on their claims, denied the motion to subordinate, found the Debtor liable under a note and lease, and ruled on the extent and validity of secured claims. The court denied all frauds claims asserted by all parties. The Court limited damages awards in favor of Surv-Tek and its affiliate based amounts asserted in their proofs of claim.


Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Good Faith, Sanctions     05/27/2022     Byrnes v. Byrnes     

Plaintiff refused to confer in good faith at the final pretrial conference. The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s case with prejudice as a sanction. As an additional sanction, the Court awarded Defendant $12,921.14 in attorney fees and costs.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Summary Judgment, Turnover     05/19/2022     Montoya v. Ferguson     

Prior to Motiva Performance Engineering, LLC’s bankruptcy filing, the state district court adjudged Motiva to be the owner of Settlement Funds paid by an insurance company as compensation for the loss of use of a vehicle owned by Motiva, which Defendant William Ferguson (part owner of Motiva) had claimed belonged to him. The district court ordered that if Ferguson had not already disbursed the Settlement Funds to Motiva, he was required to turn them over to a state court plaintiff in partial satisfaction of his judgment against Motiva. Ferguson did not abide by the state court’s order and Motiva filed bankruptcy. The trustee filed this adversary proceeding against Ferguson and his affiliates seeking, inter alia, turnover of the Settlement Funds. Ferguson claims that he already turned over the Settlement Funds by causing his wholly owned law firm to (1) pay Motiva’s bankruptcy counsel retainer, and (2) to deposit funds in Motiva’s DIP account. In a motion for summary judgment, the trustee argued that the retainer and the deposit were loans from Ferguson’s law firm to Motiva and sought an order requiring Ferguson to turn the Settlement Funds over to Motiva’s bankruptcy estate. Concluding that genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment, the Court denied the trustee’s motion.


Judge David T. Thuma
Claim Preclusion, Relief from Judgment, Reconsideration     05/10/2022     Michael Jacques Jacobs     

Debtor sought relief from the Court’s order allowing creditor’s claim under Rule 60(b)(1), (2), and (3). The Court determined that Debtor forfeited arguments regarding the amount of creditor’s claim raised for the first time in his Rule 60(b) motion. Debtor’s assertion that his former counsel failed to provide adequate representation did not qualify for relief under Rule 60(b)(1) under the theory that counsel “acted without authority.” Debtor’s “newly discovered” evidence regarding loan payments was insufficient to obtain relief under Rule 60(b)(2) because such evidence would not change the outcome. The foreclosure judgment obtained prepetition had claim preclusive effect to establish the amount of creditor’s claim. Debtor failed to allege fraud or misconduct by opposing party or its counsel sufficient to obtain relief under Rule 60(b)(3). 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Professionals     04/28/2022     Robert Betancourt     

The U.S. Trustee’s office objected to special counsel’s fee application, arguing that the Court did not pre-approve the contingent fee when counsel was employed, and that under a “reasonableness review” the fee was too high. Special counsel disagreed, asserting that the Court pre-approved the contingent fee, so a reasonableness review was not permitted. The Court found that it pre-approved the contingent fee arrangement, so it would be improper to conduct a reasonableness review. Alternatively, the Court held that the fee was reasonable.



Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Injunctions, Sanctions     04/27/2022     Edwin Bacon Hall     

The Chapter 7 Trustee filed a motion to enforce and for sanctions for violation of provisions of a settlement order that included a channeling injunction and procedures that required potential claimants to sign a consent whereby they agreed not to seek relief from the settlement order. Claimant had filed a motion requesting the Court to interpret the settlement order and notices sent before entry of the settlement order. Claimant’s motion included a request for relief from the settlement order under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9024. The Court determined that the motion violated the consent but did not violate the channeling injunction and awarded the Chapter 7 Trustee reasonable attorney’s fees and costs per the consent proportionate to the work the Chapter 7 Trustee performed in relation to the claimant’s request for relief under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9024. 


Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Dismissal or Conversion, Subchapter V     04/21/2022     Akamai Physics, Inc.     

After confirmation and substantial consummation of Debtor’s Chapter 11, Subchapter V plan, the United States Trustee (UST) moved for conversion or dismissal of the bankruptcy case under Section 1112(b)(1). The plan was confirmed with the support of all Debtor’s creditors and the plan is not in default. While the UST’s arguments may have constituted cause for dismissal or conversion pre-confirmation or pre-substantial consummation, they are ineffective at this stage of the case. If conversion or dismissal ever is required in this case, the Court will have to determine whether the “hybrid” plan in this case, which defers discharge pending completion of the plan payments, would survive or be negated.   

Judge David T. Thuma
Claim Preclusion, Issue Preclusion     04/19/2022     Javier Lopez     

A judgment obtained by default establishes the validity, extent, and amount of a claim and, therefore, a state court divorce decree obtained by default awarding child support arrears and an equalization payment had claim preclusive effect to establish the amount of the judgement creditor’s claims. However, the determination of the nature of the claim as a domestic support obligation or property settlement requires the court to ignore the labels attached to the state court judgment to determine whether the obligations function as support; because the state court did not make that determination, the default divorce decree did not satisfy the “same claim” requirement for application of claim preclusion to the nature of the claim. Issue preclusion did not apply because the divorce decree was obtained by default, failing to satisfy the “actually litigated” requirement for issue preclusion.



Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Default Judgment, Dismissal     04/07/2022     Jacobs v. DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc.     

The Court set aside the clerk’s entry of default, denied Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment, and, on its own motion, dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against the defaulting defendants. Even though defendants failed to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint, dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against these defendants was appropriate where it was patently obvious that Plaintiff could not prevail on claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or declaratory judgment.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Reconsideration, Summary Judgment     04/07/2022     United State of America v. Alejandro Saavedra     

Plaintiff filed motion to reconsider an order granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. The court granted the motion to reconsider in part. When doing so, the court elected to consider portions of the record not cited by the parties in their briefs.

Judge David T. Thuma