In re: Icenhower

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Bankruptcy Law
  • Date Filed: 06-26-2014
  • Case #: 12-56329; 12-56418
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Farris for the Court; Circuit Judges N. Smith and Watford
  • Full Text Opinion

An Amended Consolidated Judgment is sufficiently specific if it orders a party to take “a specific and definite course of conduct.”

Debtors Jerry and Donna Icenhower owned an interest in a coastal villa in Jalisco, Mexico. Mexican law prohibits foreign nationals from owning title to land that is within 50 kilometers of the coast, so the Icenhower’s property was not held in fee simple. Instead, the Icenhowers held the interest in a fideicomiso trust, an arrangement foreign nationals can make with the government for property use. The Icenhowers eventually purchased a shell company and transferred their villa interest to the shell company. The Icenhowers then filed for bankruptcy protection and the shell company sold the villa interest to the Diazes. Subsequently, the bankruptcy trustee filed an action seeking to avoid the transfer, arguing it was a fraudulent conveyance. The shell company failed to appear in the action and eventually Kismet Acquisition, LLC purchased the estate’s assets and was appointed trustee. Following the bench trial, the bankruptcy court ordered the Diazes to deliver all necessary documents that were “needed to undo the avoided transfer, and take all actions necessary to cause the property to be reconveyed to a fideicomiso trust” and name Kismet as sole beneficiary. The court also filed an Amended Consolidated Judgment (“ACJ”), which clarified that the villa interest was not a fee simple and required the Diazes to obey the order within ten days. The Diazes failed to comply, so the court found them in contempt. On appeal, the Diazes argued that, “the ACJ was insufficiently specific to support a finding of contempt.” The Ninth Circuit held that the ACJ was “sufficiently specific” because the bankruptcy court “ordered the Diazes to undertake a specific and definite course of conduct * * * [and] there was also no ambiguity regarding the proper beneficiary of the fideicomiso.” AFFIRMED.

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