Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Debtors argue that the bankruptcy court erred in not awarding them all the attorney fees they incurred in their adversary proceeding against Champion for its violation of the discharge injunction. Debtors also argue that the bankruptcy court erred in not awarding them punitive damages for Champion's violation of the discharge injunction. The BAP concluded that both arguments failed for the same reason. In this case, the record on appeal affords the panel no basis for evaluating their merits. Therefore, the BAP is unable to review the bankruptcy court's findings of fact or its conclusions of law, and cannot say, without the transcript, that the bankruptcy court abused its discretion in reaching the decision it did. Accordingly, the BAP affirmed the judgment. View "Huonder v. Champion Milking Systems" on Justia Law
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Debtor appeals the bankruptcy court's order converting his chapter 13 case to chapter 7. The BAP concluded that the bankruptcy court did not err by refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing on the United States Trustee's motion. The BAP also concluded that even if debtor had not waived his challenges, the bankruptcy court's findings are not clearly erroneous. In this case, the bankruptcy court's findings are amply supported by the facts set forth in the United States Trustee's verified motion. The BAP agreed with the bankruptcy court's findings that there was sufficient cause to convert the chapter 13 case to chapter 7. The bankruptcy court found that, inter alia, debtor had exhibited a serious and studied disregard for the orderly process of justice and a relentless willingness to lie; he had intentionally given inconsistent testimony and failed to provide responsive information; he had filed his bankruptcy petition in an attempt to avoid having to disclose financial information; and he failed to disclose assets on bankruptcy schedules. Accordingly, the BAP affirmed the judgment. View "Hansmeier v. McDermott" on Justia Law
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After defendant was convicted of distributing cocaine base, the district court applied the Guidelines' career-offender enhancement on the basis of two prior convictions, one of which was for first-degree battery under 5-13-201 of the Arkansas Code. The court concluded that it is not possible to inflict serious physical injury by means of a deadly weapon, as those terms are defined in the Arkansas Code, without employing physical force. Therefore, defendant's prior conviction for first-degree battery is a crime of violence. Because the district court did not err by applying the enhancement, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Thomas" on Justia Law
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The County appealed the bankruptcy court's order and judgment discharging the debt owed to it by Jacob Milan for costs incurred related to his incarceration. The bankruptcy code precludes discharge of a debt for a fine, penalty or forfeiture owing to a governmental unit unless it is pecuniary in nature. The court concluded that the bankruptcy court committed no error in its determination that the Incarceration Costs are subject to discharge under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(7). In this case, the clear intent for the Incarceration Costs is pecuniary in nature. View "County of Dakota v. Milan" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against Rodenburg, a debt collection law firm, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692d-f. The court concluded that Rodenburg reasonably believed that plaintiff had not provided a complete response to his prior communication with defendant and thus section 1692(b)(3) permitted a call back. The court agreed with the district court that it was objectively reasonable for Rodenburg to believe that plaintiff, as the parent, had or could obtain location information about his daughter, Alexis, permitting a follow-up call to learn if he had acquired or was now willing to provide “correct or complete location information.” The court also agreed with the district court that there is no material factual dispute as to the section 1692d(5) claim because Rodenburg’s conduct did not rise to the level of harassment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kuntz v. Rodenburg LLP" on Justia Law
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Barbara Wigley appeals the bankruptcy court's order denying confirmation of Robert Wigley's (debtor) second modified Chapter 11 plan. The court held that Barbara does not have standing because her interests are not central to the bankruptcy process and she is not a person aggrieved. Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal. To the extent that Barbara has standing to bring this appeal, the court concluded that the bankruptcy court did not err in denying approval of a settlement in debtor's Chapter 11 plan, and the district court did not err in entering the stay relief order. View "Wigley v. Wigley" on Justia Law
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Lariat appealed the bankruptcy court's order denying Lariat's request to dismiss the Chapter 11 case of debtor, or to convert the case to Chapter 7, denying confirmation of debtor’s second modified Chapter 11 plan, and establishing deadlines for debtor to file a modified plan and obtain confirmation of it. Lariat also appealed the bankruptcy court's order confirming debtor's fourth modified Chapter 11 plan. Lariat’s main argument is that the bankruptcy court erred in finding that debtor’s Chapter 11 case was filed in good faith. The court found no error with the bankruptcy court’s findings that debtor was in financial distress, and that he filed his Chapter 11 petition to maximize the value of his assets and to obtain the benefits of the Bankruptcy Code. The court rejected Lariat's contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "Lariat Companies, Inc. v. Wigley" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against PRA, a debt collector, and its attorneys, Gamache, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The district court granted defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The court concluded that nothing inherent in the process of charging off a debt precludes a claim for statutory interest, and Missouri’s prejudgment interest statute does not expressly preclude statutory prejudgment interest following a waiver of contractual interest. Therefore, defendants' demands for such interest were not actionable misrepresentations or unfair or unconscionable collection methods under sections 1692e or 1692f. Because the court held that the original creditors’ acts of charging off the debts did not effectuate waivers of statutory interest, the assignments of the debt to PRA did not “create” the entitlement to statutory prejudgment interest. The court concluded that the assignments merely transferred any entitlement to such interest that otherwise existed. The court further concluded that any demand requirement that exists as a precondition to the accrual of statutory prejudgment interest was satisfied by the original creditors’ demands upon plaintiff. The court held that there exists no de minimis exception to FDCPA liability based upon low dollar amounts; and debt collectors’ false representations about the availability of remedies or amounts owed under state law, like representations of fact, are to be viewed through the unsophisticated-consumer standard and may be actionable pursuant to the FDCPA. Applying these holdings to the present case, the court concluded that plaintiff has articulated viable section 1692e and 1692f(1) claims by alleging false statements and collection attempts regarding the availability of compound interest. Accordingly, the court reversed as to these claims, rejected plaintiff's remaining claims, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Haney v. Portfolio Recovery Assoc." on Justia Law
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Bayer filed an interpleader action to determine its obligations with regards to a settlement reached with Texana that came about as a result of lawsuits that arose when Bayer introduced genetically modified rice into the United States commercial long-grain rice supply. Stearns Bank and Amegy are both bank creditors of Texana. The district court found for Amegy Bank. The court held that the district court erred in determining that Stearns Bank’s foreclosure extinguished its rights to pursue the proceeds of its original collateral; while Stearns Bank does not have an interest in the Settlement Payment as an after-acquired general intangible because that payment arose as proceeds of a commercial tort claim, it does have an interest in the Settlement Payment to the extent the payment is for damage to the original collateral; and the district court will have to determine on remand what part of the sum held in the registry of the court constitutes proceeds of Stearns Bank’s original collateral and what part does not constitute such proceeds. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Stearns Bank Nat'l Assoc. v. Amegy Bank Nat'l Assoc." on Justia Law
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The district court found third-party plaintiff Qwest failed to prove its claims for intentional interference with a business relationship, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment against third-party defendant FC. The court agreed with the district court that FC did not act with an improper purpose when it contracted with Sancom, a local exchange carrier (LEC), because FC was simply attempting to take advantage of the uncertain regulatory scheme at the time; FC had a legitimate argument that it could be considered an “end user,” and thus Sancom could bill Qwest under its tariff for calls delivered to FC’s call bridges; and thus the district court did not err in finding for FC on Qwest's claim for intentional interference with a business relationship. The court predicted that the South Dakota Supreme Court would not recognize a tort of unfair competition under these circumstances, and found that the district court properly rejected this new tort. The court concluded, however, that the district court incorrectly found FC’s conduct was “neither illegal nor inequitable” because it was simply taking advantage of a loophole until the loophole closed, and the district court improperly considered Sancom’s settlement payments to Qwest when it found FC was not unjustly enriched. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for reconsideration of whether FC was unjustly enriched. View "Qwest v. Free Conferencing Corp." on Justia Law