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Shapiro v. Henson

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 9, 2014

Brian David SHAPIRO, Trustee of the bankruptcy estate of Barbara Melinda Henson, Appellant,
v.
Barbara Melinda HENSON, Appellee.

Submitted Oct. 8, 2013.[*]

Page 1199

Brian D. Shapiro, Law Office of Brian D. Shapiro, LLC, Las Vegas, NV, for Appellant.

Tara Twomey, National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center, San Jose, CA, for Amicus Curiae National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Edward C. Reed, Jr., Senior District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:10-cv-00726-ECR-GWF.

Before: N. RANDY SMITH and JACQUELINE H. NGUYEN, Circuit Judges, and GORDON J. QUIST, Senior District Judge.[**]

OPINION

N.R. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

Bankruptcy Code § 542(a) grants a bankruptcy trustee the power to recover property of the debtor's estate or such property's value. With this power, the trustee may seek recovery from entities having " possession, custody, or control" of the property sought, whether the property was in the entity's possession, custody, or control at the time the motion was filed or at any other point during the pendency of the bankruptcy case. Therefore, we reverse the district court's decision affirming denial of bankruptcy trustee Brian Shapiro's motion for turnover and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 7, 2009, Barbara Henson filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. At the time she filed bankruptcy, Henson had a Bank of America checking account with $6,955.19 therein. Henson had written several checks drawn on this account before filing for bankruptcy, but the bank did not honor those checks until after she filed her petition.

On October 2, 2009, Brian Shapiro (the bankruptcy trustee appointed for Henson's case) sent Henson a letter demanding that Henson turn over the funds that had been in her bank account. On November 3, 2009, Henson denied being in possession of the funds and indicated that she would not comply.[1] On November 11, 2009, Shapiro responded by filing a motion for turnover under § 542(a) against Henson to recover $6,155.19 of her petition-date account balance.[2]

Page 1200

The bankruptcy court denied the motion, because Henson did not have possession or control of the funds at the time Shapiro filed the motion for turnover. Shapiro appealed to the district court. The district court affirmed, and Shapiro then timely filed the instant appeal.

While this appeal was pending, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (" NACBA" ) filed a motion seeking leave to file a brief as amicus curiae in support of Henson, including with the motion its proposed amicus brief. We GRANT the NACBA's motion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court de novo. Barclay v. Mackenzie ( In re AFI Holding, Inc. ), 525 F.3d 700, 702 (9th Cir.2008). We also review a bankruptcy court's interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code de novo. Tighe v. Celebrity Home Entm't, ...


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