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 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 Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Evidence     11/19/2021     Taeki Martin v. Ramin Zamani-Zadeh     

As evidence at a trial of her nondischargeability claim, Plaintiff seeks to admit an audio recording of a state court trial at which Defendant did not appear. Evaluating the matter under Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(1), the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s recorded testimony is admissible at trial. The recorded testimony of the remaining witnesses will not be admitted.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Attorneys Fees, Discovery     11/19/2021     Taeki Martin vs. Ramin Zamani-Zadeh     

Based on Plaintiff’s pending motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff objected, and gave non-responsive responses, to Defendant’s requests for discovery.  After the Court denied the motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff should have provided adequate supplemental discovery responses. Plaintiff failed to do so. Defendant filed a motion to compel, seeking attorneys fees and sanctions. Thereafter, Plaintiff provided supplemental, but still inadequate, discovery responses. Plaintiff’s counsel shall be required to reimburse Defendant for his expenses incurred and filing the motion to compel and to correct the deficiencies of the current discovery responses. Defendant’s request for sanction is denied.

Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13, Conversion     11/12/2021     Chuck and Chuthamard McCune     

Debtors’ chapter 13 case converted to chapter 7 after the court approved debtors’ counsel’s fees but before confirmation of a chapter 13 plan. The order approving fees did not specify what should happen to the funds debtors paid to the chapter 13 trustee in the event of case conversion. Debtors’ counsel subsequently withdrew from representing the debtors. The court determined that, consistent with Harris v. Viegelahn, 575 U.S. 513 and this court’s prior decision in In re Beauregard, 533 B.R. 826 (Bankr. D.N.M. 2015), the chapter 13 trustee must return the funds on hand to debtors unless counsel’s engagement letter signed by the debtors includes an assignment of debtors’ right to payment. Alternatively, debtors’ former counsel could submit a post-conversion/post-withdrawal as counsel assignment with certification that the assignment is truly voluntary signed by the debtors.   

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Chapter 11, Claim Objection     11/04/2021     Twin Pines, LLC     

Bank asserted a secured claim against equipment Debtor acquired post-petition under the theory that 1) the equipment was proceeds of encumbered LLC membership interests initially pledged by Debtor’s individual members to secure payment to acquire their membership interests in the Debtor; 2) the pledged membership interests would be transferred to a new investor upon confirmation of debtor’s plan in exchange for the investor’s prior contribution to the purchase of the equipment; and 3) the after-acquired equipment became property of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate. Creditor who held the initial security interest in the pledged membership interests had assigned  his security interest to the Bank. The Court sustained Debtor’s objection to the Bank’s claim, in part, because the evidence before the Court did  not establish that pledged membership interests would be transferred to the new investor. Consequently, the Bank did not establish under the Uniform Commercial Code that the after-acquired equipment was proceeds of the security interest in the pledged membership interests. The Court sustained Debtor’s objection to Creditor’s claim because his secured claim was premised on the same theory as the Bank’s and because his unsecured claim was not a claim against the Debtor, but rather, a claim against the non-debtor individual members of the Debtor. 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Discharge Injunction, Settlement     11/03/2021     Brian Van Winkle et. al. v Belleview Valley Land Co. et.al     

Plaintiffs, co-representatives of Debtor’s probate estate, filed this adversary proceeding seeking to recover redemption funds obtained by Defendants from a state court registry, which had been deposited by the probate estate to redeem property the Defendants had foreclosed. Plaintiffs’ theory  was that Defendants violated the discharge injunction by taking the funds. Determining the rightful owner of the redemption funds raised an obscure legal issue on which there is no binding or persuasive precedent. An appeal and protracted litigation of this already years-long dispute was a certainty. With the Court’s encouragement, the parties pursued mediation. They reached a settlement agreement and filed a joint motion seeking its approval. One of the co-representatives then unilaterally objected to, and sought to rescind, the settlement agreement. Applying New Mexico contract and probate law, the Court denied the objection. Applying bankruptcy law, the Court approved the settlement agreement.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary, Chapter 13, Dismissal, Jurisdiction     11/03/2021     Ortega v. Baca     

The Court denied Defendant/Debtor’s motion to dismiss adversary proceeding for lack of jurisdiction,  holding that the Court retained jurisdiction over the non-dischargeability adversary proceeding that resulted in a mediated settlement agreement of non-dischargeable debt notwithstanding Defendant/Debtor’s voluntary dismissal of her chapter 13 case. 

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Compromise, Dischargeability, Nondischargeability     11/03/2021     Ortega v. Baca     

The Court granted plaintiffs’ motion to enforce settlement agreement after an alleged breach by the defendant despite defendant’s voluntary dismissal of her underlying bankruptcy case. The Court found the settlement agreement was binding and enforceable even though the parties had not executed a contemplated definitive agreement. The mediated binding settlement agreement provided that the debt at issue was non-dischargeable in any bankruptcy case defendant might file, and defendant did not assert any grounds that might excuse performance under the parties’ settlement agreement. Enforcement of the settlement agreement did not require referral to the mediator as arbitrator because the enforcement dispute did not require the Court to determine the meaning of the settlement agreement, the intent of the parties, or the form of any additional documents to be prepared and executed as a result of the settlement agreement. The Court entered a non-dischargeable judgment against the Debtor/Defendant per the settlement agreement.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Claim Objection, Standing     10/22/2021     Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe     

Movant sought court permission to object to a proof of claim. While movant was not a creditor and had no economic interest in the bankruptcy case, he was interested in the facts the court might find as part of the claims objection. The court ruled that movant was not a party in interest and lacked standing to object to the claim, holding that claims objectors are limited to the debtor, the trustee, creditors, and (sometimes) equity interest holders.

Judge David T. Thuma
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13     10/21/2021     Chuck and Chuthamard McCune     

The Court granted, in part, attorney’s interim fee application in a chapter 13 case. Fees and associated costs and expenses for work performed in representing the debtors in their chapter 13 case and in related adversary proceeding objecting to dischargeability of debt were compensable under 11 U.S.C. § 330(a)(4)(B). The Court rejected the argument that Debtors filed and prosecuted their chapter 13 case in bad faith, rendering all fees unnecessary and unreasonable. The Court disallowed fees for filing a motion for Rule 2004 exam in an adversary proceeding; once an adversary proceeding is commenced, litigants must seek discovery through the applicable rules of civil procedure rather than Fed.R.Bankr.P. 2004. The Court also disallowed fees for preparing and filing a proof of claim on behalf of creditor prior to claims bar date, contrary to the requirements of Fed.R.Bankr.P. 3004 and 11 U.S.C. § 501(c).

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Chapter 11, Employment of Professionals     10/19/2021     S-Tek 1, LLC     

The chapter 11 debtor asked the Court to approve its counsel jointly representing debtor and debtor’s principals in an adversary proceeding. The Court found no actual conflict of interest in the joint representation but found potential conflicts. The Court approved the joint representation subject to satisfaction of four conditions, which included a waiver by the principals of indemnification claims against the estate. The Court also found that indemnification claims arising from a prepetition contract are prepetition claims subject to the claims bar date and construed the ultra vires defense to liability narrowly.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz

Pages