All posts in Judges Corner

The purpose of this letter … is to provide notice of a current crisis [In the Eastern District]

Since not all of us are members of the Eastern District, I wanted to share a letter signed by all nine sitting district court judges in the Eastern District. I have attached a copy to this blog. Judgeship+Letter+June+2018

Read more…

Is Fraud under California Law the Same as Fraud under 523(a)(2)? Yes says Judge Maureen Tighe.

In Moussighi v. Talasazan (In re Talasazan), 1:16-ap-01119-MT (Bkrcy June 2018, C.A. Cal Tighe J.), Judge Tighe said,

Fraud under California law and § 523(a)(2)(A) are identical for purposes of collateral estoppel. In re Younie, 211 B.R. 367, 373 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1997), aff’d, 163 F.3d 609 (9th Cir. 1998); In re Jung Sup Lee, 335 B.R. 130, 136 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2005).

This came up in an argument I had with someone recently re res judicata.  I stated that a state court judgment that says ONLY “Plaintiff wins $1 million based on the fraud of defendant,” is res judicata in bankruptcy court whether entered by default or not.   I was told I was mistaken in no uncertain terms because fraud under California law is not the same as fraud under 523(a)(2).  Wrong!

By the way, the judgment example above IS res judicata as to the amount owed in any event – at least for claims purposes.  The typical state court judgment says “Plaintiff wins $1 million” (nothing else).  Collateral estoppel in that case as to fraud still MIGHT apply depending on whether it was actually litigated etc.  Underlying documents, rulings etc are needed.  But the judgment ITSELF is res judicata as to how much defendant/debtor owes the creditor.  That statement does NOT mean that if there was fraud, the damages for fraud are $1 million.  But it does mean debtor owes creditor $1 million (which is discharged unless 523(a) applies).

The Talasazan matter has an interesting twist.  The debtor moved for summary judgment on the grounds that fraud was litigated in state court and the ruling was in the debtor’s favor and therefore could not be relitigated.  The problem is that the state court judge did not say that.   Judge Tighe wrote:

“[W]hile fraud was pled, argued, and briefed after trial, the Third Amended Judgment does not include fraud in the list of causes of action on which Plaintiffs prevailed.

It appears that the Superior Court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on the negligent misrepresentation cause of action rather than fraud.

For purposes of collateral estoppel, as detailed below, the Superior Court’s silence with respect to the fraud action, in the context of undisputed evidence from both sides that the issue was fully litigated, was a ruling in favor of the Debtor and not the Plaintiffs.”

Judge Zurzolo Brown Bag on May 14, 2018

Judge Vincent Zurzolo will host a Brown Bag discussion on Monday May 14th at 12:15 p.m. in his courtroom at the Los Angeles Division.

The specific topic is his new procedure to advance the hearing date on confirmation of a chapter 13 plan for chapter 13 cases over which he presides.

In addition, attendees can ask questions about chapter 13 procedures or other general court matters. Please see the flyer and 4 exhibits that will be discussed by clicking the link below.

To view this announcement and the exhibits please click here.

RIP Hon. Stephen Reinhardt, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Image result for stephen reinhardtThe “liberal lion” has passed.  He will be missed.  The LA Times article is here.

San Fernando Valley Bar Assn to Honor Judge Geraldine Mund

Email from Steve Fox,

Dear All:

The bankruptcy section is not conducting a meeting in February.  We will be back soon with some really good programs.

At the SFVBA’s annual judge’s night event on Thursday February 22, 2018 , Judge Mund is being honored.  The program will have a number of bankruptcy judges in attendance (along with state court judges) and it would be great to have a lot of bankruptcy attorneys in attendance for Judge Mund. Read more…

Judge Meredith Jury’s Comments at the cdcbaa Ashland Awards Dinner

Judge Jury received the cdcbaa award as Judge of the Year at our annual Ashland Awards dinner last month.   Her comments were epic and the award so well deserved.  Luckily I was able to track down someone who taped her statement on an IPhone (or something).  I had the comments transcribed with Judge Jury’s permission and posted on the cdcbaa website.  You can read her statement here.   It is one of my greatest honors to count her as a friend.

More on Sundquist: Are Fees Based on Contingency Fee Agreement here Reasonable?

No according to Judge Klein (in 40 pages).

Sundquist v. Bank of America (In re Sundquist) — B.R. — (Bkrtcy, E. D. Cal. Nov, 2017) Klein, J.

Issue:   Is it appropriate to “expunge” an attorney’s lien on the facts here?

Holding:   Yes.  The court here “canceled” the fee agreement between counsel and the debtor on the basis, in part, that fees exceeding $70,000 here were unreasonable.

Judge Christopher Klein

This is a 40 page diatribe excoriating the efforts of debtor’s counsel on behalf of the debtor.  It lays out very nicely however the rules of determining what fees are “reasonable” and how that determination intersects with state law.    Read more…

Hon. Harry Pregerson 1923 – 2017 RIP

Judge Harry Pregerson

I interviewed Judge Harry Pregerson about ten years ago in his chambers in Woodland Hills.  I was writing a short profile of him for the San Fernando Valley Bar Journal.  To say he regaled me over four hours with stories is to put it very mildly.  He was seriously wounded in the Pacific at the Battle of Okinawa when he was 22 years old.  He spent a few months I believe recovering on the island of Tinian.  He loved talking about the time he presided over the Oakland Raiders v. NFL trial, especially how smart the lawyers were and a few little tricks that they played trying to get an advantage with the jury.  In the bankruptcy arena, Judge Pregerson was on the panel in the Kagenveama case and later on the en banc panel in Flores where he dissented.

The article I finally wrote is below the jump.  The LA Times article on his death is here.

Judge Harry Pregerson
“Senior Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals” Read more…

Nice Profile of Judge Laura Taylor, Chief Bankruptcy Judge in San Diego

This is a nice profile of Chief Judge Laura Taylor, written by Gary Rudolph for the state bar Business Law Section, Insolvency Law Committee eBulletin:

November 14, 2017  
Dear constituency list members of the Insolvency Law Committee, the following is a judicial profile of the Hon. Laura S. Taylor, Chief Bankruptcy Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California.  Gary Rudolph, a member of the Insolvency Law Committee, met with Judge Taylor to discuss her personal and professional background and her experience so far as a member of the bankruptcy bench.

In the Beginning

Judge Taylor has known since high school that she wanted to be a lawyer because it blended her interest in law and the political process.  After engaging in private practice, including taking time away from a successful bankruptcy and finance practice with a large law firm to represent  disadvantaged families on a pro bono basis through a non-profit program she helped to found, she set a new challenge for herself that would best use her talents and interests–namely, to become a judge.  Judge Taylor had two respected judges as mentors and role models to follow on this path to the bench–most immediately, her husband, the Hon. Timothy B. Taylor, Judge of the Superior Court for the State of California, and the Hon. Irma E. Gonzalez, United States District Judge (Ret.), who was Judge Taylor’s neighbor and whose daughter babysat Judge Taylor’s oldest son. Read more…

Very Nice Profile of Judge Sheri Bluebond

This was written by Michael Davis and published by the Insolvency Law Committee of the California State Bar

ILC Profile Series: United States Bankruptcy Judge Sheri Bluebond

The following is a profile of the Honorable Sheri Bluebond – the eighth in a series of profiles of Ninth Circuit bankruptcy judges.  Judge Bluebond and members of the Insolvency Law Committee met in her chambers and discussed her personal and professional background, observations from the bench, and issues of interest. Read more…