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
Chapter 13, Dischargeability, Issue Preclusion     08/05/2021     Sergejev v. Alderman     

The Court granted Plaintiff’s supplemental motion for summary judgment determining that a state court award of attorneys’ fees was entitled to preclusive effect and was appropriately included as part of the non-dischargeable judgment attributable to Defendants’ non-dischargeable conduct under § 523(a)(6). The state court entered a separate judgment for attorneys’ fees following entry of a damages judgment after trial. The Court determined that Defendants had a full and fair opportunity to litigate whether Plaintiff was entitled to attorneys’ fees at the trial in which Defendants failed to appear. The Court determined further that Defendants were not entitled to attorneys’ fees under § 523(d), which applies only to claims under § 523(a)(2). Plaintiff’s complaint included claims under both § 523(a)(2)(A) and (a)(6) based on the same conduct and the same state court judgment; the Court granted judgment under § 523(a)(6) only; and Defendants had to defend the claim under § 523(a)(6) regardless of Plaintiff’s additional claim asserted under § 523(a)(2).

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Automatic Stay     08/04/2021     Kathryn Lovato     

The Court denied creditor’s request for relief from the automatic stay under § 362(d)(1) and § 362(d)(4). Debtor filed a prior chapter 7 case six years earlier, failed to disclose a second rental property on two loan modification applications submitted to creditor, made only one payment on the two loan modifications, and filed a second bankruptcy case under chapter 13 on the eve of a scheduled foreclosure trial. Creditor asserted that debtor intentionally undervalued the property subject to the creditor’s second lien in her bankruptcy schedules so that she could seek to strip off creditor’s mortgage through her chapter 13 plan. The Court could not determine the value of the property because creditor’s appraiser made an extraordinary assumption concerning the property’s condition. The Court determined that debtor’s conduct did not rise to the level of bad faith necessary to constitute “cause” for relief from the stay under § 362(d)(1) and did not evidence a scheme to hinder, delay, or defraud creditor sufficient to grant in rem stay relief under § 362(d)(4). Debtor’s schedules showed changed circumstances in her financial condition, and property valuation would be determined at confirmation.

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Costs of Litigation, Discovery, Fees, Reconsideration     07/29/2021     Barry J. Byrnes v. Sylvia Marie Byrnes     

 

Two days after the court’s entry of a protective order which, inter alia, ordered Plaintiff to pay the attorney fees incurred by Defendant in connection with the motion for a protective order, the Plaintiff filed a motion seeking reconsideration. Plaintiff’s reasons for seeking reconsideration are not well taken, and the motion is denied. Plaintiff, who is bordering on becoming a vexatious litigant, is admonished to comply with the governing rules of procedure, to curb his overly aggressive litigation tactics, and to conduct himself with the appropriate level of decorum required for court proceedings.

Judge David T. Thuma
Appeals, Automatic Stay, Relief from Stay     07/23/2021     Victor P. Kearney     

Debtor filed a motion for an order instructing the New Mexico Court of Appeals that the automatic stay does not prevent it from resolving pending appeals from a state district court order. The automatic stay was previously modified to allow the state district court to rule on the matters at issue in the pending appeals. When the Court modified the automatic stay to allow the state district court to rule, it did not intend to deny any party the right to appeal an adverse ruling. Although the stay modification order was silent on this point, the order implicitly and necessarily included the right to appeal. The Court granted Debtor’s motion accordingly.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 11, Contract Interpretation, Sales of Assets     07/19/2021     Sandia Tobacco Manufacturers, Inc.     

Debtor, a non-participating tobacco product manufacturer (“NPM”) under the Master Settlement Agreement between various settling states and major tobacco product manufacturers,  sought to sell its rights to receive the interest earned and residual amounts remaining twenty-five years after deposit in qualified escrow accounts established under state escrow statutes applicable to NPMs. The Court denied the motion and the related motions to approve auction procedures and to assume and assign escrow agreements concluding that Debtor had already assigned the rights at issue under a Supply Agreement for the manufacture of tobacco products for distribution and sale by another tobacco business. Debtor’s rejection of the Supply Agreement had no effect on the rights already assigned through allocation under the Supply Agreement.  

 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary, Avoidance Actions, Fraudulent Transfers, Preference, Property of the Estate     07/16/2021     Philip J. Montoya v. Paula Goldstein et al     

Trustee sought to avoid payments made on a promissory note to Debtor’s principal’s mother as preferential and/or fraudulent. After a trial on the merits, the Court finds in favor of defendants on all counts because the defendants put much more money into Debtor than they took out and because some of the funds were earmarked by guarantors to pay the mother specifically, and so therefore were not property of the estate.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 11, Contract Interpretation, Executory Contract     07/12/2021     S-Tek 1, LLC     

Debtor sought to reject a pre-petition settlement agreement as an executory contract. The Court determined that the release provisions in the settlement agreement were effective upon payment of the settlement amount to Debtor and that rejection of the settlement agreement would not  undo the releases to allow Debtor to resume its claims against the settling party. The Court deferred its determination of whether the settlement agreement remains executory based on mutual non-disparagement provisions. The Court did not need to decide whether a provision in the settlement agreement rendered the entire agreement unenforceable as against public policy because the settlement agreement contained a severability provision.

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Adversary, Dismissal, Divorce/Separation, Nondischargeability     07/02/2021     Barry J. Byrnes v. Sylvia Marie Byrnes     

Plaintiff, the estranged husband of Defendant/Debtor filed an adversary proceeding seeking a determination that certain alleged support obligations are nondischargeable in Debtor’s chapter 7 bankruptcy. The parties are married. Though they are living separately, they are not legally separated nor has either filed for divorce. In Count Two of his amended complaint, Plaintiff sought an order from this Court (1) determining Debtor’s domestic support obligations to him, and (2) declaring  those obligations nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. Section 523(a)(5), (6), (7), and (15). Debtor moved to dismiss Count Two for failure to state a claim. The Court holds that that marital support obligations are the exclusive province of the state court. Without a court-issued marital settlement agreement, domestic support order,  separation agreement, etc.,  Plaintiff cannot state a claim under Section 523(a)(5) or (a)(15). Nor do the allegations in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint state a viable claim under 523(a)(6) or (a)(7). Debtor’s motion to dismiss is granted.

Judge David T. Thuma
Chapter 13, Confirmation, Valuation     06/29/2021     Kathryn D. Lovato     

The Court denied debtor’s motion to strike creditor’s motion to value property as duplicative and set the motion to value property together with plan confirmation. Even though Debtor’s plan included a motion to value property, nothing in the Code prohibits a creditor from filing a separate motion to value property. The Court’s local bankruptcy rules require debtors to include all pre-confirmation motions in the plan and contemplate that valuation issues be determined at confirmation. If the creditor does not object to confirmation or does not file a separate motion to value property in time to be heard at the same time as confirmation, the creditor risks that confirmation will have preclusive effect on the motion to value property or render the motion to value property moot. 

Chief Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz
Attorneys Fees, Chapter 13     06/23/2021     Elizabeth A. Griego     

Debtor objected to the third fee application of her chapter 13 counsel. The fees requested in the application accrued post-confirmation for legal work to resolve persistent issues with debtor’s mortgage servicer and her homeowner’s insurance company. The work performed was necessary and beneficial to debtor. With the exception of excessive time billed for some email correspondence, the fees sought in the application were reasonable. Reducing the bill by $180, the Court allows $1,000 in fees and costs of $77.49 to be paid through debtor’s chapter 13 plan.    

Judge David T. Thuma

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