Opinions

 

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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.

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
Adversary     08/03/2022     Philip Montoya, Chapter 7 Trustee v. William S. Ferguson et al     

Defendants moved to exclude Plaintiff’s expert witness from testifying at trial, arguing that the expert was being paid a contingent fee, which disqualified him from testifying. Defendants also argued that the expert’s testimony should be excluded under the Daubert “junk science” rule. The Court overruled the contingent fee argument and deferred ruling on the Daubert argument until the conclusion of trial.

adv

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Summary Judgment     07/15/2022     Philip Montoya, Chapter 7 Trustee v. William S. Ferguson et al     

Parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The Court denied both motions, reasoning material fact issues precluded summary judgment.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Extension of Time, Rooker-Feldman     07/01/2022     Michael Jacques Jacobs     

Debtor sought to vacate and reschedule the final hearing on the United States Trustee’s motion to convert or dismiss debtor’s chapter 11 case and related deadlines so that Debtor could pursue a newly filed Rule 60(b) motion to set aside foreclosure judgment filed in the state court foreclosure action. The Court denied the motion for a 45-day extension since it will just cause further delay in the bankruptcy case and likely be an insufficient time for Debtor to obtain a ruling on whether the state court foreclosure judgment is void or should be set aside, which, under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, is an issue this Court may not consider. Debtor has had several years within which to seek to set aside the state court foreclosure judgment, and the basis for the “new developments” was known to Debtor since at least March of 2022.

 

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Chapter 13, Discharge, Miscellaneous, Professionals - Conflict of Interest     07/01/2022     Rhonda Lorie Otero Sedillo     

Requiring debtor’s counsel to sign the certification in support of a debtor’s chapter 13 discharge certifying that counsel has explained to the debtor the averments contained in the certification and that to the best of counsel’s knowledge and belief the debtor meets the discharge eligibility requirements does not violate the attorney-client privilege (the crime-fraud exception applies) or place the attorney in an untenable conflict of interest with his client to reveal information learned in confidence. The attorney’s alternative to signing the certification is to withdraw from representing the debtor. The debtor’s certifications in support of chapter 13 discharge aid the court in determining that a debtor is eligible for a chapter 13 discharge before the Court grants the discharge. The Court is amenable to revising its local form 4004-1 as part of its regular forms review process.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Relief from Judgment     07/01/2022     Michael Jacques Jacobs     

Debtor sought relief under Rule 60(b)(2) (newly discovered evidence) and Rule 60(b)(3) (fraud or misconduct) from the Court’s memorandum opinion and order overruling objection to claim. The majority of the “newly discovered” evidence had been available to the Debtor since the trial in the state court foreclosure action over five years ago; consequently, it did not constitute newly discovered evidence sufficient to obtain relief under Rule 60(b)(2). The fact that Debtor only recently discovered the legal significance of the documents did not make the evidence “newly discovered.” The only truly new evidence regarding the cessation of business of the beneficial owner of the note would not change the Court’s decision, which was based on the preclusive effect of the foreclosure judgment entered in state court. Creditor’s conduct in connection with the bankruptcy did not constitute fraud or misconduct warranting relief under Rule 60(b)(3). Debtor should have addressed any perceived discovery violations during discovery. The Court denied Debtor’s motion for Rule 60 relief.

                                                                                     

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Default Judgment, Proof of Claim, Rooker-Feldman     06/28/2022     Jose L. Aguayo Calahorra     

Creditor and Debtor both dealt with an unscrupulous third party from whom Debtor legitimately and in good faith purchased a lot and a mobile home in Dona Ana County. Unbeknownst to Debtor, Creditor believed that the third party’s assignment to him of the third party’s rights under a purchase agreement in which Debtor agreed to buy the lot and mobile home from the third party, conferred ownership of the property to the Creditor. It unequivocally did not. Nevertheless, a Texas state court granted Creditor a default judgment against Debtor for the value of the mortgage Debtor granted to the third party when he bought the property. Based on the default judgment, Creditor filed a secured proof of claim in Debtor’s bankruptcy case. Procedural irregularities and legal nullities abound, but after consideration of all the evidence presented at a final hearing, the Court, confined by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, concludes that Creditor has an unsecured claim based on the Texas default judgment. Additionally, the Creditor is ordered to remedy wrongful actions taken in violation of the automatic stay affecting Debtor’s title to the lot and mobile home.  

Judge David T. Thuma
Due Process, Redemption     06/16/2022     Simpson     

Debtor moved to redeem her car for $500. The secured lender did not object. Neither Debtor nor the secured lender appeared at the preliminary hearing on the motion. The Court took the motion under advisement and concluded the motion should be denied without prejudice because of service problems.

 

 

Judge David T. Thuma
Valuation     06/13/2022     S-Tek 1, LLC     

Creditor held a security interest in all or substantially all of the Debtor’s assets. Debtor sought to limit creditor’s secured claim to the value of its collateral under § 506(a). The Court observed that there are three approaches to the burden of proof on a motion to value secured claims under § 506(a):  one approach places the burden solely on the secured creditor to establish the amount and extent of its lien; a second approach places the burden solely on the moving party (usually the debtor); and a third approach employs a burden shifting approach applicable to claims objection proceedings that places the initial burden on the debtor to overcome the presumed validity and amount of the creditor’s secured claim, which, once met, shifts the ultimate burden of persuasion to the creditor to establish the extent of its lien and the value of the collateral. Ultimately, under the circumstances of this particular case, the Court declined to adjudicate the motion to value collateral based on which party failed to meet its burden of proof and, in the exercise of its fact-finding role, fixed the value of the creditor’s collateral at or near the confirmation date based on the best evidence presented. Because the replacement value of the individual assets was greater than enterprise, (going concern) value, the Court used replacement value to determine the value of the secured creditor’s collateral that the Debtor intended to use in the continued operation of its business post-confirmation.   

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
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

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