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Indemnitor's Bail Bond Debt Is Dischargeable

In re Sandoval, 541 F.3d 997 (C.A. 10, Sept. 11, 2008)

Roberta Dampf-Aguilar, a professional bail bondsman and president of Affordable Bail Bonds, Inc. (collectively “the Bondsman”), posted two bonds totaling $16,000 with the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma on behalf of Bonito Yanez, who also signed the bonds. The day before the bonds were posted with the court, Jorge H. Sandoval signed a contract agreeing to indemnify the Bondsman should Yanez fail to appear. Yanez did, in fact, fail to appear for trial and the Bondsman paid the State of Oklahoma $16,000 on Yanez’ behalf pursuant to judgment of forfeiture.

The Bondsman sued Sandoval for breach of the indemnification agreement and obtained a state-court default judgment in the amount of $20,150. Sandoval thereafter filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, and the Bondsman brought an adversary proceeding in an attempt to have the judgment declared nondischargeable. The Bankruptcy Court found the debt to be dischargeable because 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(7) only applies to certain debts “payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit” and this debt was payable to and for the benefit of the Bondsman. The Bondsman appealed to the District Court (N.D. Okla.), which certified the issue for appeal directly to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals stated that the bonds in the case were signed only by Yanez and the Bondsman, obligating only them to pay the State of Oklahoma in the event that Yanez did not appear. Neither the judgment ordering forfeiture nor the receipt for payment made any mention of Sandoval. Sandoval merely entered into a private agreement with the Bondsman. Sandoval’s obligation was to the Bondsman, and the Bondsman was a corporate entity, not a governmental unit.

The Bondsman argued that she qualified as a governmental unit because she paid the bond to the State and should therefore be subrogated to the State’s rights; however, the Court held that the State had no right to payment from Sandoval. The Court held that the debt involved was not “payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit,” and that §523(a)(7) did not bar the discharge of the debt. The judgment of the Bankruptcy Court was affirmed.

 

 

Judge(s): Ebel, Circuit Judge
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Related Categories: Criminal Justice
 
Amicus Lawyer(s) Amicus Law Firm(s)
Mac D. Finlayson Morrel Saffa Craige PC

 
Appellant Lawyer(s) Appellant Law Firm(s)
Brandon Burris Glendening McKenna & Prescott
Bruce McKenna Glendening McKenna & Prescott

 

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shoes" of the state as a subrogee avails the bondsman nothing in regard to the discharge a debt owing directly to a governmental unit incurred as a result of the 5 nonappearance of a defendant. we are not concerned here with the nature, scope, to in re lopes and in re sanchez. the bondsman urges this court to follow appear in court as ordered or forfeit the bonds. the bonds' face value totaled she is the sole shareholder and director of plaintiff affordable bail bonds, inc. the bondsman attempts to satisfy the government-entity prong of debt." aplt. br. at 20. this circuit has yet to determine whether, under the usual 3 4 or operation of the bond agreement between the bondsman and the state of filed in it, sandoval for all relevant purposes from another case pending before it. see affordable bail the order and judgment of forfeiture lists only the bondsman and her seeking a determination that the debt owed her by sandoval was nondischargeable unnecessary, however, for us to decide that question because this debt is not an individual debtor from any debt -- "agent," but that line is unsigned. aplt. app. at 35. circumstances, a bondsman-debtor's obligation under a forfeited bond may be bonds, inc. v. thompson (in re thompson), bankr. no. 05-15680-r, court under 28 u.s.c. 158(d)(2)(a). we subsequently granted the bondsman's roberta a. dampf-aguilar, "in reviewing a bankruptcy court decision under 28 u.s.c. 158(a) and district court which granted her motion for certification to appeal directly to this (10th cir. 1997). treating this debt as nondischargeable under 523(a)(7) would . . . . 523(a)(7) did not apply. it therefore dismissed the bondsman's complaint for defendant yanez, the attorney-in-fact for the bondsman, and a deputy court clerk. reversal. those cases are all inapposite, however, because in each of them the allow the guarantor/co-signer on the forfeited bond to obtain a discharge for the payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit, and thus the statute does aplt. app. at 30. the bondsman is not a governmental unit, and the fact that she h. sandoval signed a "plain-talk" contract and a bond agreement agreeing to (7) to the extent such debt is for a fine, penalty, or forfeiture payable authority of the same court in lopes, failed to cite or distinguish the lopes one anomalous and unpublished case, however, from the bankruptcy court for the at 27, 33. neither the judgment of forfeiture nor the receipt for payment of the the bondsman argues that in re lopes was wrongly decided and that the appealed directly to this court. sandoval's case, however, was eligible for direct governmental unit discharged in bankruptcy. nor is it a case involving a the bondsman for actual expenses in case of forfeiture. id. at 38-39. the 6 the appearance bonds filed in the tulsa county district court are signed by (a) a discharge under section 727 . . . of this title does not ebel, circuit judge. the bond posted if the defendant does not appear in court for every appearance amwest surety ins. co. v. contreras (in re contreras), 2006 bankr. lexis 4402 3 debtor. (collectively "the bondsman"). the bondsman posted two bonds with the district in 523(a)(7). city of philadelphia v. gi nam (in re nam), 273 f.3d 281, 285 (10th cir. 2007) (quotations and citation omitted). appeal to this court, although sandoval has not appeared in this appeal. we have appeal from the united states district court united states court of appeals (d.c. no. 06-01264-r) and $1,000 respectively upon the nonappearance of yanez in court at the time fresh start objectives of bankruptcy, doubt is to be resolved in the debtor's favor." bellco first fed. credit union v. kaspar (in re kaspar), 125 f.3d 1358, 1361 for the northern district of oklahoma this appeal. see fed. r. app. p. 34(a)(2); 10th cir. r. 34.1(g). the case is ultimately paid money to the state of oklahoma after yanez failed to appear does at 64. because the thompson bankruptcy was filed before the effective date of tenth circuit 2 as must be clear, there is very little published law in this area. there is and any other time ordered by the court," and further that "if the bond is ordered curiae. 7 bail-bondsman debtor or other type of surety debtor who is attempting to tenth circuit an attorney-in-fact, as surety. the day before the bonds were posted, debtor jorge state court where she obtained a default judgment in the amount of $20,150. app. at 37, 42. in the bondsman's opening brief, the corporate disclosure indemnitor/guarantor checklist, again signed only by sandoval, memorialized court of tulsa county as surety for the promise of defendant, bonito yanez, to sanchez), 365 b.r. 414, 417 (bankr. s.d.n.y. 2007). tulsa, oklahoma, for plaintiffs-appellants. compensation for actual pecuniary loss. . . . sandra ray thompson; in deciding the sandoval case, the bankruptcy court adopted "the analysis, there is no obligation here flowing from sandoval to the state of matter. the "plain talk" contract, printed on the bondsman's letterhead, was 523(a)(7) by arguing that she should be subrogated to the rights of the state of not bar discharge. it is important at the outset to understand what this case is not. it is not a provides, in pertinent part: (a) a discharge under section 727 . . . of this title does not discharge pertinent part: discharge provided by 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7). as noted above, the statute court's decision de novo." troff v. utah (in re troff), 488 f.3d 1237, 1239 therefore ordered submitted without oral argument. precedent and is unpersuasive because it is devoid of meaningful analysis. oklahoma on behalf of yanez. * sometime after the entry of the default judgment against him, sandoval filed for debtor was directly obligated to the governmental unit. it is the relationship (or . . . . circuit: does 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7) render nondischargeable a debt incurred by a documents sandoval signed were in spanish, but it is undisputed that unexecuted to and for the benefit of a governmental unit, and is not clerk of court oklahoma. the bankruptcy court was correct, however, that the state had no michael rex thompson, (3rd cir. 2001). attorney-in-fact as "bondsman" and finds "that the conditions of said appearance appeal, the bondsman again argues that this debt is a forfeiture. it is the bondsman then brought a breach of contract action against sandoval in the bondsman argues that "[a]s a matter of public policy, it makes no unanimously that oral argument would not materially assist the determination of precedent of in re nam, 273 f.3d 281, dobrek v. phelan, 419 f.3d 259 (3d cir. 2005), and united states v. zamora, 238 b.r. 842 (d. ariz. 1999), compels debt for a fine or penalty imposed upon him by the state." aplt. app. at 64. on be inconsistent with the plain language of the section. under 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7). sense to except from discharge the bondsman's obligation for the forfeiture but [] adv. no. 07-1016-r, 2007 wl 2738171 (bankr. n.d. okla. sept. 12, 2007). defendant-appellee. 158(d)(2)(a), we assume, without deciding, that it was not eligible to be case where the debtor was the defendant in the underlying criminal action who 523(a)(7) claim under the facts alleged in the complaint in this case." aplt. app. were forfeited, and therefore his debt is not for a forfeiture of a bond, nor is his rights on the bail bond or otherwise against sandoval. thus, "stepping into the they obligate yanez and the bondsman, to pay the state of oklahoma $15,000 before hartz, ebel, and o'brien, circuit judges. payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit, and is not by the state of oklahoma, is president of plaintiff affordable bail bonds, inc. outside the ambit of the bondsman's cited authority. "[e]xceptions to discharge are to be narrowly construed, and because of the statement required by fed. r. app. p. 26.1 indicates that the bondsman is a reasoning and authorities set forth in the summary judgment order entered in the submitted on the briefs:* that govern appellate review in other cases. because this case requires us to 1 bond[s] have been broken by both the defendant and the bondsman." aplt. app. the bankruptcy court held that "sandoval was not a party to the bonds that jorge h. sandoval, plaintiffs-appellants, 8 determine the meaning of 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7), we review the [bankruptcy] chapter 7 protection, and the bondsman brought this adversary proceeding yanez failed to appear for trial.1 proceeding by bankruptcy rule 7012. the bondsman elected to appeal to the against plaintiff dampf-aguilar and her attorney-in-fact. aplt. app. at 27. no. 07-5165 failure to state a claim under fed. r. civ. p. 12(b)(6), made applicable to the non-relationship) of sandoval to the state of oklahoma here that brings this case thompson case in concluding that the bondsman cannot prevail on a section to the state of oklahoma, and an order and judgment of forfeiture was entered stated on the bonds. neither bond is signed by or refers to sandoval. in re: sandoval's understanding that he was "responsible for paying the full amount of not change her status from that of a private corporate entity. see empire bonding agency v. lopes (in re lopes), 339 b.r. 82, 89 (bankr. s.d.n.y. 2006). governmental unit. see in re lopes, 339 b.r. at 90; correales v. sanchez (in re translations. (d), the district court and the court of appeals apply the same standards of review publish sandoval also executed an indemnitor/guarantor checklist. all of the promised to pay the full amount of the bond, including any unpaid bond premium, section 523(a)(7) of chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code provides, in (bankr. s.d.n.y. 2006). contreras, however, decided after the published petition for permission to appeal. see 28 u.s.c. 158(d)(2)(a).2 debtor who has guaranteed a bail bondsman to make the bondsman whole in the 9 oklahoma. both the bond agreement between sandoval and the bondsman and discharged, and this case does not present that issue. in any event, the application 2 from discharge, we must decide whether it meets all three requirements specified compensation for actual pecuniary loss. . . . after examining the briefs and appellate record, this panel has determined english versions of the documents also appearing in the record are accurate september 11, 2008 southern district of new york that runs counter to the bankruptcy court here and the copy of the contract included in the record has a signature line for mac d. finlayson, of morrel saffa craige, p.c., tulsa, oklahoma, for amicus signed by defendant yanez, and by sandoval as the indemnitor.3 granted the thompsons' motion for leave to become amicus and have considered forfeiture refer in any way to sandoval. id. united states court of appeals (7) to the extent such debt is for a fine, penalty, or forfeiture in the case at bar, the bankruptcy court faced a situation indistinguishable $16,000 and were executed by yanez as principal and by the bondsman, through pursuant to the forfeiture judgment, the bondsman paid $16,000 to the state of when yanez failed to appear, the bonds were elisabeth a. shumaker jorge homero sandival, of the statute in this case is clear. jorge h. sandoval, a/k/a indemnify the bondsman for the full amount of the bond posted in the event 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7). in order to determine whether sandoval's debt is immune dischargeability of the debt and fails to afford the bondsman status as a agency." id. at 42. sandoval, he promised to pay the bondsman $1600 for the bond and to reimburse bruce a. mckenna and brandon j. burris, of glendening, mckenna & prescott, does not, and we affirm. v. nongovernmental corporate entity. plaintiff dampf-aguilar's affidavit states that plaintiff roberta a. dampf-aguilar, a professional bail bondsman licensed in the event of forfeiture. id. at 35, 36. in the bond agreement, signed only by event a criminal defendant jumps bail? we agree with the bankruptcy court that it the judgment of the bankruptcy court is affirmed. oklahoma. with those caveats in mind, we turn to the statutory exception to the checklist provide that any money owed is payable to the bondsman. aplt. the arguments and materials presented in their amicus-curiae brief. amicus curiae. as mentioned above, sandoval did sign three documents in relation to this forfeited . . . [he] must pay the full amount of the bail forfeited to the bail had previously jumped bail and is now attempting to get his debt to a 11 u.s.c. 523(a)(7). this case presents a question of first impression in this discharge an individual debtor from any debt -- the bankruptcy court held that the debt was dischargeable because affordable bail bonds, inc.; forfeited, yanez and the bondsman became responsible for payment of the bonds


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