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IN RE CHRISTIANSON

September 15, 2005.

In re ROGER C. CHRISTIANSON, Debtor. ROGER C. CHRISTIANSON, Appellant,
v.
BERNADETTE SHAYOTA, Appellee.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANA M. SABRAW, District Judge

ORDER AFFIRMING BANKRUPTCY COURT'S ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CONTEMPT
Pending before the Court is an appeal from a minute order of the United States Bankruptcy Court, the Honorable James W. Meyers presiding, entered on September 28, 2004. The challenged minute order denied Appellant's motion for contempt against Appellee and her counsel. For the reasons discussed below, the order is AFFIRMED.

I.

  FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

  In 1994, Creditor-Appellee Bernadette Shayota ("Shayota" or Appellee") obtained a judgment in the amount of $79,742.27 against Debtor-Appellant Roger C. Christianson ("Debtor" or "Appellant") in San Diego Superior Court. Shayota then recorded an abstract of judgment, thereby encumbering Christianson's residence at 2496 Colinas Paseo, El Cajon, California, 92018 (the "Property").

  On September 12, 1995, Christianson commenced his voluntary Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. On April 30, 1997, Shayota filed her Proof of Claim in the bankruptcy case in the amount of the state court judgment plus interest for a total of $103,664.95. Christianson objected to Shayota's claim, but the bankruptcy court eventually allowed it, and thereafter entered Christianson's discharge.

  In October 2000, Christianson filed a motion to avoid Shayota's lien in the bankruptcy case. On March 21, 2002, the bankruptcy court denied the motion, and stated Shayota "may proceed to execution on her state court judgment against Debtor and the Property." (In re Christianson, Case No. 95-09833-LA, March 21, 2002 Order at 5) (strikeout in original). The Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed that decision on October 20, 2003, and the Ninth Circuit dismissed Christianson's subsequent appeal.

  On February 13, 2004, Shayota filed a Notice of Renewal of Judgment in San Diego Superior Court. In response, Christianson filed a motion to vacate the renewal of judgment. To resolve that motion, the Superior Court directed the parties to seek clarification from the bankruptcy court on two issues: (1) the effect of the 2001 discharge of Christianson's debts in bankruptcy on the bankruptcy court's March 21, 2002 Order stating Shayota may proceed to execution on her state court judgment against the Property, and (2) whether the renewal of judgment adversely affects Christianson or Shayota's rights.

  On May 20, 2004, Shayota filed the motion for clarification. The bankruptcy court clarified its March 21, 2002 Order on July 8, 2004.

  On August 30, 2004, Christianson filed a motion for contempt in the bankruptcy court against Shayota and her counsel arguing that Shayota's renewal of the judgment violated the bankruptcy court's discharge order. The bankruptcy court denied that motion in a minute order dated September 28, 2004. Christianson now appeals that ruling. II.

  DISCUSSION

  The parties agree the issue in this appeal is whether the bankruptcy court erred in denying Christianson's motion for contempt. Neither party addresses in detail whether this Court has jurisdiction to hear this appeal or the appropriate standard of review. Nevertheless, the Court considers each of these issues below.

  A. Jurisdiction

  Title 28 U.S.C. § 158(a) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8001(a) provide a mechanism by which a party to a bankruptcy proceeding may appeal an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court to the district court or to a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. Appellant elected to have this Court hear the appeal, as permitted by 28 U.S.C. § 158(c)(1)(a) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8001(e).

  This Court has jurisdiction over appeals from final orders of a bankruptcy court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). A "final" order is one which ends litigation, or disposes of a complete claim for relief, and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment. See In re Four Seasons Properties, Inc., 979 F.2d F.2d 1358, 1362 (9th Cir. 1992). The challenged order in this case consists of a denial of a motion for contempt, which is a final order. See 10-9020 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 9020.04 (Lawrence P. King et al. Eds., 15th ed. rev. 2002) ("Contempt orders, like other orders resulting from ...


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