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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 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
Adversary, Dismissal, Issue Preclusion, Rooker-Feldman, Summary Judgment     04/05/2022     Jacobs v. DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc.     

Defendants filed motions to dismiss Debtor’s claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and request for declaratory judgment all arising from the chain of transfer of a note and mortgage on Debtor’s principal residence. Defendant/creditor obtained a final foreclosure judgment against the Debtor in state court prior to the filing of Debtor’s bankruptcy case. The Court determined that:  

1) standard for evaluating the motion - the Court could rely on underlying state court judgment and findings of fact and conclusions of law without turning the motions to dismiss into summary judgment motions where the Debtor’s complaint referenced the state court documents and there was no genuine dispute as to authenticity of those documents;

2) fraudulent misrepresentation – the applicable statute of limitations barred Debtor’s claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, and, as to the parties to the state court foreclosure action, the preclusive effect of the foreclosure judgment barred Debtor’s fraudulent misrepresentation claims;

3) Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) – creditor/defendant that was seeking to collect its own debt is not subject to the FDCPA, but the other defendant who may only be a mortgage servicer remains subject to the FDCPA; because the Court could not discern from the complaint whether Debtor’s claims for violation of the FDCPA challenge the validity of the foreclosure judgment or the underlying debt itself, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar Debtor’s FDCPA claims; for the same reason, if Debtor’s claim for violation of the FDCPA challenges collection methods rather than the judgment or debt, such claim does not constitute a compulsory counterclaim that was forfeited because it was not raised in the underlying state court foreclosure action;

4) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) - the Court can determine in the first instance whether the alleged behavior meets the standard of extreme and outrageous conduct necessary to support a claim for IIED and Debtor’s factual allegations failed as a matter of law to meet that standard;  alternatively, Debtor’s claim for IIED was barred by the applicable statute of limitations;

5) declaratory judgment - because bankruptcy courts are not courts of the United States under applicable Tenth Circuit law, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Debtor’s request for declaratory judgment under the Federal Declaratory  Judgment Act; alternatively, no justiciable controversy existed over which the Court could issue a declaratory judgment because the prior state court foreclosure judgment has preclusive effect; alternatively, even if the Court had jurisdiction over the request for declaratory judgment, the Court would exercise its discretion to decline to adjudicate the request.

The Court dismissed all claims against all defendants, except for the claim for violation of the FDCPA asserted against defendant whose only interest in the subject loan may be as a servicer with no ownership interest.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Professionals     03/25/2022     Victor P. Kearney     

Reid Collins & Tsai LLP (“RCT”) filed a final fee application seeking payment of a 25% contingent fee on a $3,000,000 trust distribution to the bankruptcy estate. The Unsecured Creditors’ Committee and the United States’ Trustee’s office objected. The Court found RCT’s application was procedurally sound and unambiguously approved under 11 U.S.C. § 328(a). However, fact issues required a final evidentiary hearing to determine whether the terms and conditions of RCT’s employment should be changed under the Improvident Proviso, and whether and/or how much of the $3,000,000 could fairly be considered “Gross Recoveries” to which RCT would be entitled to a 25% contingent fee.

Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Default Judgment     03/17/2022     Jacobs v. DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc.     

The Court set aside the clerk’s entry of default and denied Plaintiff’s motion for default as to various defendants who failed to timely file an answer to the complaint. Defendants demonstrated good cause to set aside the entry of default: 1) the failure to timely file an answer  was not willful, and defendants started participating in the adversary proceeding once they became aware of the proceeding, 2) questions concerning the adequacy of service existed; 3) defendants raised possible meritorious defenses; and 3) Plaintiff would not suffer prejudice from setting aside the clerk’s entry of default.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary, Core Proceedings, Jurisdiction     03/11/2022     Barry J. Byrnes v. Sylvia Marie Byrnes     

Plaintiff brought two state court tort claims against Defendant. He removed both claims to this Court after Defendant filed chapter 7 bankruptcy. Plaintiff did not consent to the Court hearing either claim. In an earlier opinion, the Court ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to a jury trial. Plaintiff filed a motion to withdraw the reference for trial of the claims in the United States District Court. While Plaintiff’s motion was pending, the Court made the following rulings related to the trial of the claims: (1) The Court adopts the “narrow” interpretation of “personal injury tort” found in 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(5); (2) Under the narrow interpretation, Plaintiff’s defamation claim is not a personal injury tort; (3) Plaintiff’s IIED claim may be subject to dismissal or summary disposition because it is based entirely on Defendant’s alleged defamatory statements; (4) In any event, the Court can try the IIED claim because the gravamen of Plaintiff’s claims is defamation; and (5) The Court will not remand the claims, but will try them in Las Cruces. Additionally, the Court held that if the District Court had a different view about the legal issues before the Court and/or how best to proceed, it could supersede the Court’s decision(s) when it ruled on Plaintiff’s motion to withdraw the reference.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Confirmation     03/01/2022     Bonny Esquibel     

The Court held that even though creditor had standing to object to the amended chapter 13 plan and despite the timeliness of the objection, 1) creditor’s failure to timely object to debtor’s original plan constituted acceptance of that plan, satisfying the requirements of § 1325(a)(5)(A) such that the plan need not satisfy the alternative requirements of § 1325(a)(5)(B); and 2) under § 1323(c), a creditor who accepted the original plan and whose rights are not changed under the amended plan is deemed to have accepted the amended plan notwithstanding the creditor’s objection to the amended plan. The Court also found sua sponte that the plan’s proposed treatment of creditor’s claim was in good faith.


Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Claim Objection, Proof of Claim     03/01/2022     Cheryl Louise Sherman     

Debtor objected to her home mortgage lender’s proof of claim, arguing that the prepetition expenses were excessive and improperly itemized. The lender responded that its expenses were itemized as required by the bankruptcy rules and were high because of Debtor’s twelve-year payment default and repeated bankruptcy filings. The Court overruled the objection, reasoning the lender complied with the itemization requirements and that Debtor failed to provide evidence the prepetition fees were unreasonable. However, the Court allowed Debtor to take discovery regarding the reasonableness of certain prepetition fees.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Default Judgment, Relief from Judgment     02/18/2022     Yvette J. Gonzalse v. Timothy Delgado et al     

Defendant’s non-appearance for trial led to entry of a default judgment against him. 364 days after the entry of the default judgment, Defendant filed a motion for relief from the judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1), (5), or (6). Though he demonstrated a meritorious defense to the claims against him, Defendant did not demonstrate eligibility for relief from  under the standards imposed by the relevant subparts of Rule 60(b). The motion is denied. adver

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13     02/07/2022     Jody Beach and Rhonda Beach     

Creditor moved to dismiss Debtors’ case, arguing that Debtors’ unsecured debts exceed the chapter 13 eligibility limit. The outcome of Creditor’s motion hinged on the value of Debtors’ home. The Court found Debtors’ home was worth $540,000 on the petition date. The Court reasoned the Covid pandemic, low interest rates, and government spending programs created a unique seller’s market in mid-2021. Creditor’s motion to dismiss was denied.

Judge David T. Thuma
Adversary Proceedings - Procedural Matters, Classification of Claims, Jurisdiction, Nondischargeability, Removal     01/28/2022     Barry J. Byrnes v. Sylvia Marie Byrnes     

A plaintiff who files a nondischargeability action premised on unliquidated tort claims submits to the equitable jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court, which will determine issues of fact dispositive of liability and damages inherent to the issue of dischargeability. Plaintiff’s complaint in this case constitutes an informal proof of claim as to which there is no right to a jury trial. Regardless of whether Plaintiff’s tort claims qualify as “personal injury torts,” under the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Plaintiff impliedly consented to this Court trying them.  

Judge David T. Thuma