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Case Summaries

Bankruptcy Law

[07/13] Pinnacle Restaurant at Big Sky v. CH SP Acquisitions
Affirming the district court's judgment affirming the bankruptcy court's decision that a bankruptcy trustee's sale of a debtor's property was free and clear of unexpired leases.

[07/10] In Re World Imports
Reversing and remanding a Bankruptcy Court decision stating that constructive possession occurred when goods were shipped, finding that the creditor's ability to recover as a priority administrative expense the value of goods received by the debtor within 20 days before the filing of a bankruptcy petition is limited to items in the physical possession of the buyer within that period. Because the goods at issue were received within this 20 day window the goods were subject to the bankruptcy despite having been shipped more than 20 days before the filing by common carrier.

[07/07] Partida v. US Dept. of Justice
Affirming the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel's determination that the Bankruptcy Code's automatic stay provision does not prevent the government from collecting criminal restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.

[06/14] Weil v. Elliott
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee's adversary proceeding seeking revocation under 11 U.S.C. section 727(d) of a debtor's discharge on the ground that the discharge was obtained by fraud, the bankruptcy court's judgment grant of summary judgment to the trustee, revoking the discharge and dismissing the action is reversed where the one-year filing deadline imposed by section 727(e)(1) is not a jurisdictional constraint, but rather is a statute of limitations.

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Family Law

[07/10] Hamilton v. Bromley
Affirming the dismissal of the case of a father seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from an alleged conspiracy to deprive him of contact with his son, which the District Court dismissed because the father had custody of his son subject to pending state court proceedings and felt that this could render the case moot and dismissed. Although they erred in dismissing before resolving the question of mootness, the Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff's custody of their son did cause the case to become moot and affirmed the dismissal on that basis.

[06/27] Allen v. DeBello
Fathers of minor children in New Jersey challenged the 'best interests of the child' standard used by NJ courts to determine custody in a dispute between two fit parents as unconstitutional, but the court held that the judges they sued were not proper parties to the action and the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the claim.

[06/27] First Resort, Inc. v. Herrera
In a constitutional challenge to an ordinance designed to protect indigent women facing unexpected pregnancies from the harms posed by false or misleading advertising by limited services pregnancy centers (LSPC), the district court's ruling that San Francisco's Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance was constitutional and not preempted by state law is affirmed where: 1) the Ordinance is facially valid because it regulates only unprotected false or misleading commercial speech -- a category of speech afforded no constitutional protection; and 2) the Ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague.

[06/26] Pavan v. Smith
In a case relating to same-sex marriage, Arkansas state officials refused to issue birth certificates listing the spouse when a mother in a same-sex marriage gives birth, but the court held that the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___ (2015) proscribes this differential treatment.

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Contracts

[07/13] Eldridge v. Gordon Brothers Group, LLC
Affirming a ruling of summary judgment to the defendants but vacating and remanding for reconsideration a sanctions order since both sides agreed that the judge erred when ordering sanctions against the plaintiff rather than their attorneys and made a mistake in interpreting Delaware law relating to implied covenants.

[07/13] Mountain Valley Prop. Inc. v. Applied Risk Serv. Inc.
Affirming the denial of a motion to vacate an arbitrator's decision because the arbitrator did not manifestly disregard the law and did not exceed their powers.

[07/12] John Hancock Insurance Company v. Abbott Laboratories
Reversing the district court's holding that contract provisions providing for liquidated damages were not a penalty and could be enforced in a breach of contract case involving an investment in a drug company's product development program.

[07/10] PGE v. LMIC
Vacating the district court's judgment entering a preliminary injunction prohibiting sureties from pursuing claims against PGE in arbitration and denying a mandatory stay of proceedings, remanding for further proceedings, and dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the sureties' appeal from the order denying their discretionary stay in a case involving the interaction of several different contracts relating to the construction of an Oregon power plant.

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Tax Law

[07/05] Matuszak v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Affirming that the issue of the failure to file a petition for innocent spouse relief from IRS actions during the statutorily provided period deprives the Tax Court of jurisdiction to review such a claim.

[06/29] 926 North Ardmore v. County of L.A.
Affirming the appellate court's denial of the plaintiff's refund claim in a case where Los Angeles imposed a documentary transfer tax on a written instrument transferring beneficial ownership among parties and holding that such a tax can be imposed where there is a transfer of legal beneficial ownership made for consideration.

[06/29] DuQuesne Light Holdings, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Affirming the Tax Court's application of the Ilfield doctrine in holding that the double deduction for losses incurred by the subsidiary of a company was improper and disallowing $199 million of those losses.

[06/29] Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara
In a case relating to a surcharge added to energy bills that the city claimed was a fee for the use of public services which taxpayers characterized as a tax imposed without voter approval the court affirmed the appellate decision reversing the trial court's grant of motion for judgment on the pleadings, but reversed the appellate court's order granting summary adjudication to the plaintiffs.

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