Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

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Certain real property was sold in violation of an automatic stay from the homeowners’ bankruptcy proceedings. Because the property was situated in Nevada, and the bankruptcy proceedings commenced in Texas, the Supreme Court was presented with a purported conflict of laws issue. Appellant sought to quiet title in the district court. Respondent disputed the validity of the sale by filing a complaint in intervention. The district court granted summary judgment for Respondent, concluding that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied, Respondent had standing as a creditor enforce the automatic stay in the homeowners’ bankruptcy, and the foreclosure sale was void due to the violation of the automatic stay. On appeal, Appellant argued that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit law applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper because, under both the Ninth and Fifth Circuits, a sale conducted during an automatic stay in bankruptcy proceedings is invalid. View "LN Management LLC Series 5105 Portraits Place v. Green Tree Loan Servicing LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was later converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Prior to filing, Appellant was involved in two personal injury cases. As part of his bankruptcy proceedings, Appellant claimed two personal injury exemptions, one for the personal injury settlement stemming from a dog attack and another stemming from an automobile accident. The bankruptcy court certified to the Supreme Court the question of whether a debtor is entitled to more than one personal injury exemption under Nev. Rev. Stat. 21.090(1)(u) if the debtor has more than one personal injury accident. The Supreme Court held that section 21.090(1)(u) entitles a debtor to an exemption for each personal injury claim, on a per-claim basis. View "Kaplan v. Dutra" on Justia Law

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Tower Homes, LLC retained William Heaton and his law firm (collectively, Heaton) for legal guidance in developing a residential common ownership project. The project eventually failed, and Tower Homes entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The plan of reorganization and confirmation order stated that the trustee and bankruptcy estate retained all legal claims. The trustee subsequently entered into a stipulation with a group of creditors (collectively, the Creditors) permitting the Creditors to pursue any legal malpractice claims in the Tower Homes’ name. The bankruptcy court then entered an order authorizing the trustee to permit the Creditors to pursue Tower Homes’ legal malpractice claim in Tower Homes’ name. The Creditors subsequently filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Heaton, naming Tower Homes as plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Heaton, concluding that the stipulation and order constituted an impermissible assignment of a legal malpractice claim to the Creditors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the stipulation and order constituted an assignment, which is prohibited under Nevada law; and (2) the Creditors may bring a debtor’s legal malpractice claim pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 1123(b)(3)(B) when certain conditions are met, but those conditions were not met in this case. View "Tower Homes, LLC v. Heaton" on Justia Law

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Debtor filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. On his claimed exemption schedule, Debtor asserted that, pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 21.090(1)(bb), his entire interest in two corporations’ stock was exempt from the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy court certified a question to the Supreme Court, asking whether section 21.090(1)(bb) allows a debtor to exempt his entire interest in a closely held corporation or whether the exemption is limited to the debtor’s noneconomic interest in the corporation. The Supreme Court answered that section 21.090(1)(bb)’s language exempting stock of a corporation described in subsection 2 of Nev. Rev. Stat. 78.746 “except as set forth in that section” means that a debtor can exempt stock in the corporations described in Nev. Rev. Stat. 78.746(2), but his economic interest in that stock can still be subject to the charging order remedy in section 78.746(1). View "Becker v. Becker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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Appellants filed a promissory note that was secured by a deed of trust on their property. At the time that Appellants defaulted, Respondent was the holder of the note and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) was the beneficiary of the deed of trust securing the note. After Appellants filed for bankruptcy, MERS assigned its interest in the deed of trust to Respondent. Before the assignment was recorded, Respondent filed a proof of claim in Appellants’ bankruptcy claiming that it was a secured creditor. Respondent then filed a motion for relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay so that it could foreclose on Appellants’ property. Appellants argued that Respondent was not a secured creditor because it did not have a unified note and deed of trust when the bankruptcy petition was filed. The United States Bankruptcy Court certified two questions of law to the Supreme Court concerning the legal effect on a foreclosure when the promissory note and deed of trust are split at the time of foreclosure. The Supreme Court concluded (1) when the promissory note is held by a principal and the beneficiary under the deed of trust is the principal’s agent at the time of foreclosure, reunification of the note and the deed of trust is not required to foreclose; and (2) as a matter of law, the recording of an assignment of a deed of trust is a ministerial act. View "In re Montierth" on Justia Law

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The Kawaharas loaned the Allisons $400,000. The Allisons executed a note to the Kawaharas in that amount secured by a deed of trust on a Reno property. The note was delivered in 2009 but was not recorded until 2011. When the Allisons’ car dealership became delinquent in taxes, the State Department of Taxation recorded certificates of tax lien against the Allisons. The lien was created and recorded in 2010. The Allisons filed for bankruptcy in 2011. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada approved the sale of the Reno property. The bankruptcy court certified two questions to the Nevada Supreme Court concerning the priority of the competing liens on the Reno property. The Supreme Court concluded (1) a recorded tax lien cannot be recognized as a mortgage lien, and therefore, the Department cannot claim to have recorded a mortgage lien when it filed a tax lien certificate; (2) the deed of trust had priority over a tax lien levied under Nev. Rev. Stat. 360.473; and (3) the Department’s tax lien is considered a judgment lien under section 360.473(2), and Nevada recording statutes do not protect judgment creditors against prior unrecorded conveyances. View "State, Dep't of Taxation v. Kawahara" on Justia Law

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William Plise, a judgment debtor, did not attend his scheduled debtor’s examinations in the district court. Eliot Alper, the judgment creditor, sought an order to show cause why Plise should not be held in contempt of court. Before the hearing on that motion, Plise filed a bankruptcy petition. Alper participated in the bankruptcy proceeding and obtained an order from the bankruptcy court granting relief from the automatic stay and allowing the district court to conduct a hearing and enter an order with regard to Plise’s alleged criminal contempt. The district court found Plise guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to twenty-one days incarceration. The court, however, conditionally allowed Plise to avoid criminal contempt punishment. Alper filed this petition seeking a writ of prohibition arguing that the district court exceeded the scope of the bankruptcy court’s order granting relief from the automatic stay when it allowed him to avoid incarceration by participating in a debtor’s examination. The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition, concluding that the district court’s order exceeded the scope of the bankruptcy court’s lift stay order because a contempt order that permits a judgment debtor to purge incarceration is civil, rather than criminal, in nature. View "Alper v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada certified three questions of law to the Supreme Court regarding the mechanic’s lien priority law, specifically, the visible-commencement-of-construction aspect of the law, which states that a mechanic’s lien takes priority over other encumbrances on a property that are recorded after construction of a work of improvement visibly commences. The Supreme Court answered (1) the Court’s holding in J.E. Dunn Northwest, Inc. v. Corus Construction Venture, LLC does not preclude a trier of fact from finding that grading property for a work of improvement constitutes visible commencement of construction; (2) the contract dates and permit issuance dates are irrelevant to the visible-commencement-of-construction test, even in this case where dirt material was placed on a future project site before building permits were issued and the general contractor was hired; and (3) the Court declined to answer the third certified question because it asked the Court to make findings of fact that should be left to the bankruptcy court. View "Byrd Underground, LLC v. Angaur, LLC" on Justia Law

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David and Kelli Nilsson, who were divorced, held a half interest in certain property in Reno as tenants in common. After the divorce, Kelli and the parties’ children lived on the property, and David lived elsewhere. Several years later, David filed for bankruptcy. On his schedule of real property assets, David claimed an interest in the Reno property as half-owner with Kelli. David then claimed the property as exempt from inclusion in his bankruptcy estate based in part on the homestead exemption. The bankruptcy trustee (Trustee) objected to the claimed exemption because David did not reside on the Reno property, David did not record a declaration of homestead, and David could not now record a valid declaration of homestead on the property. David responded that he could claim the exemption because his children still lived on the property. The bankruptcy court certified a question to the Nevada Supreme Court without ruling on the Trustee’s objection. The Court answered that a debtor must actually reside on real property in order to claim properly a homestead exemption for that property. View "In re Nilsson" on Justia Law

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Wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. Husband did not join in the bankruptcy petition or file a separate petition for relief. Under bankruptcy law, the bankruptcy estate includes all of the marital community property. Wife claimed exemptions for two motor vehicles and property worth over $1,400, all of which was community property. The Trustee filed an objection on the grounds that a debtor spouse may exempt only a single vehicle and property worth no more than $1,000 under Nev. Rev. Stat. 21.090(1), and a non-debtor spouse has no right to claim any exemptions in a debtor spouse's bankruptcy. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court overruled the Trustee's objection, determining that Nevada law allows a debtor to claim motor vehicle and wildcard exemptions on behalf of a non-debtor spouse. The Trustee appealed to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, which certified a question to the Nevada Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that, based on section 21.090(1)(f) and (z)'s plain language, Nevada law does not allow debtors to claim motor vehicle and wildcard exemptions on behalf of their non-debtor spouses, and therefore, a judgment debtor in Nevada is limited to one motor vehicle exemption an other personal property exemptions not to exceed $1,000. View " In re Fox" on Justia Law