2012 Judge Gambardella - Opinions
Judge Rosemary Gambardella -- Opinions signed in 2012
The Court granted debtor-defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The complaint sought to except from discharge, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(5) and (a)(15), an attorney's charging lien arising out of legal representation of the co-debtor ex-wife in a matrimonial action in New Jersey Superior Court. The Court found, however, that the debt in question is merely a pre-petition claim against the debtor for legal services rendered to her by her own attorney and that the matrimonial order specifically stated the lien was to be satisfied out of the assets of the ex-wife. Thus, the debt was never owed by a debtor to a former spouse or child, nor did the matrimonial court's order intend to impose sanctions against the ex-husband or economic support to the ex-wife, and the claim for nondischargeability under § 523(a)(5) and (a)(15) must fail.
The Court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The complaint seeks to deny debtor-defendant's discharge, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(5), because the debtor engaged in certain fraudulent conduct and failed to produce certain required records and documents. The Court found that, taking all inferences and facts in favor of the non-moving debtor and holding the pro se debtor's pleadings to a less stringent standard, the debtor-defendant had attempted to explain the conduct and deficiencies. The plaintiff has challenged the debtor's explanations, leaving genuine disputes of material facts which must be resolved at trial.
The Court granted Claimant's motion to correct mistake, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60, Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9024, and 11 U.S.C. § 105, in the Court's December 10, 2010 Opinion to the extent that it clarified its prior ruling. The Court found that Rule 60(a) was inapplicable because Claimant was not asking the Court to correct a mere mechanical error and that, while brought within the statutory time period and within a reasonable time, Rule 60(b) was inapplicable because the sentence giving rise to conflicting interpretations was ambiguous, but there was no mistake within the meaning of Rule 60(b). Relying on its inherent equitable powers, the Court clarified it had not limited the subject of the Claim to one type of asbestos-containing material to the exclusion of other asbestos-containing materials because to do so would be premature, and that Claimant will have an opportunity to present further proofs related to each type of asbestos-containing material included in its Proof of Claim and Supplemental Submission with respect to the issues of fact identified in the December 14, 2010 Opinion.
The Court granted the Reorganized Debtors' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) and Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7056 and disallowed and expunged the claims of certain former members of the Center for Claims Resolution (CCR). The Court found the former members did not have standing to assert claims for breach of the governing Producer Agreement because, as interpreted under Delaware law, the plain meaning of the Producer Agreement's terms did not provide an independent right of action for the former members and such an independent right would be counter to the parties' intent in creating the CCR. The Court further found the former members did not meet their burden to establish direct standing, pursuant to Delaware law, to assert claims for breach of the Producer Agreement because the claims rightfully belonged to the CCR and the former members could not establish their injury was entirely distinct from the CCR's injury.