Burton V. Infinity Capital Management

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sovereign Immunity
  • Date Filed: 06-04-2014
  • Case #: 12-15618
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge S. Thomas for the Court; Circuit Judges Gilman and Rawlinson
  • Full Text Opinion

Quasi-judicial immunity is not extended as a matter of law to an attorney who prepares a judicial order for a judge.

Freddy Joe Burton (“Burton”) was injured in a bicycle accident and hired Jan Paul Koch (“Koch”) to represent him in his personal injury claim. The case settled and Koch recommended that Burton put his settlement in a trust and then hire another attorney to help him file bankruptcy. Koch placed the settlement funds minus attorney’s fees in a trust. The bankruptcy proceedings were started and an automatic stay was put on Burton’s trust. At the same time, despite the automatic stay, Infinity Capital Management (“Infinity”), which took over Burton’s hospital debt, filed an interpleader action. The judge asked an attorney for Infinity Capital Management, Salvatore Gugino (“Gugino”), to prepare a proposed order for Koch to appear before the interpleader court to explain how Burton’s money was handled. Gugino prepared the order. Koch later brought an action in federal court against Gugino, Infinity and the judge for violating the stay. The court held the judge was entitled to judicial immunity, but held that Gugino was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. The panel only examined whether quasi-judicial immunity should be extended to Gugino since he was following judicial instruction when he prepared the order. The panel found that Gugino did not qualify for immunity because Gugino is a private attorney and while preparing the order was judicial in nature, it was did not require him to use the type of discretionary judgment that the doctrine of judicial immunity protects. AFFIRMED

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