Charles B. Easley, Sr.; Patricia A. Easley, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Collection Service of Nevada, Defendant-Appellee.
and Submitted November 15, 2018
from the United States District Court for the District of
Nevada Lloyd D. George No. 2:15-cv-00395-LDG, Senior District
Christopher P. Burke (argued), Las Vegas, Nevada, for
Patricia Halstead (argued), Halstead Law Offices, Reno,
Nevada, for Defendant-Appellee.
Before: RAYMOND C. FISHER and MILAN D. SMITH, JR., Circuit
Judges, and LAWRENCE L. PIERSOL, [*] District Judge.
panel reversed the district court's order denying
bankruptcy debtors' motion under 11 U.S.C. § 362(k)
for attorneys' fees incurred on appeal in successfully
challenging the bankruptcy court's award of
attorneys' fees to debtors for a willful violation of the
panel held that, in addition to authorizing the court to
award reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred on
appeal in defending a judgment rendered pursuant to §
362(k), § 362(k) also authorizes attorneys' fees and
costs that the debtor incurred on appeal in successfully
challenging an initial award made pursuant to § 362(k).
panel also held that the district court abused its discretion
in denying the motion for attorneys' fees on the
alternative ground that the debtors failed to comply with a
local rule requiring the filing of points and authorities.
The panel concluded that the memorandum of points and
authorities filed with the district court sufficiently
clarified the attorneys' fees and costs sought in
panel reversed the order of the district court and remanded
to the district court with instructions to remand to the
bankruptcy court to calculate appellate attorneys' fees
SMITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Bankruptcy Code (the Code) provides hard-pressed debtors with
an opportunity to obtain some relief from their financial
burdens. One critical tool in the Code aiding an orderly
bankruptcy process is an automatic stay of creditor actions
to collect preexisting debts from debtors who have filed for
bankruptcy protection. See 11 U.S.C. § 362(a).
The Code provides that injured debtors may sue for
"actual damages, including costs and attorneys'
fees" for willful violations of the stay. Id.
§ 362(k)(1). We previously held in In re
Schwartz-Tallard, 803 F.3d 1095, 1101 (9th Cir. 2015)
(en banc), that this provision authorizes the court to award
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred on appeal
in defending a judgment rendered pursuant to §
362(k). We now clarify that § 362(k) also authorizes
attorneys' fees and costs to the debtor incurred on
appeal in successfully challenging an initial award
made pursuant to § 362(k).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Charles and Patricia Easley (Appellants) filed for Chapter 13
bankruptcy on October 31, 2012, which resulted in the
imposition of an automatic stay pursuant to § 362.
Appellants listed Bennett Medical Services (Bennett) as a
Schedule F creditor holding unsecured, nonpriority claims for
$3, 535, even though Bennett had previously assigned the debt
to Defendant-Appellee Collection ...