Horse Trading That May be Non-Dischargeable under Chapter 7

For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtor, multiple horse trades and a subsequent filing of a bankruptcy petition may not be enough to avoid having to reimburse a dissatisfied rodeo roper. Mr. Raymond Siggins sold a horse named “IV” to Benjamin Bates who intended to ride IV in roping competitions. When the horse was found by Mr. Bates to be lame, Siggins agreed to give Bates a different horse. When this horse as well was deemed defective for not being saddleworthy, they traded again. And after Mr. Bates found this horse to have multiple medical issues, he demanded financial compensation instead of a replacement horse. When Siggins refused his demand, Bates sued him in New Mexico’s Twelfth Judicial District Court. In this state court lawsuit, the parties eventually entered in to a stipulation whereby Siggins agreed to pay Bates the sum of $13,000 by July 1, 2011. In the event he so failed, Bates would be entitled to a judgment for the amount, plus interest and court costs.


Siggins failed to remit payment by the referenced date and Bates proceeded to get a judgment entered in the case of  Benjamin Bates v. Ray Siggins, individually, and d/b/a Siggins Horse Co., case no. 1226-CV-2010-00295 (the “State Court Lawsuit”).  Subsequently, Siggins and his wife filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action in New Mexico. He obtained a discharge of his debts. Bates proceeded to file an adversary proceeding on September 9, 2013, seeking a judgment from the bankruptcy court that the amounts owed by Defendant Siggins, as set forth in a state court judgment, are nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2) and/or (a)(6).


Siggins moved for a summary judgment to the adversary petition claiming there is no genuine issue of material fact in In Re Siggins, No. 13-12716 TR, Adv. No. 13-1074 T (US Bank. Ct. D. NM 2014). The bankruptcy court refused to grant such a summary judgment and ordered the case to go to trial. The Court identified several reasons for its ruling. First, it rejected Siggins’ argument that the only remedy to which Bates would be entitled is replacement with another horse because the original contract specified such as a remedy. Second, Siggins failed to attach a copy of the contract to his motion. Third the contract did not call for specific performance and the argument ignores the existence of an intervening state court judgment. Acceptance of that argument would violate the Rooker-Feldman doctrine for the Court to grant relief inconsistent with the Judgment.


As a result, this legal rodeo is not over. Further wrangling over the horse trading will resume at a trial before the federal bankruptcy judge.


In Albuquerque, Giddens & Gatton Law, PC has attorneys who offer expert handling of Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases as well as receiverships and other remedies available to creditors. The firm represents many debtors and creditors in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Raton, Farmington, Gallup, Grants, Roswell, Los Lunas, Placitas, Belen and the rest of New Mexico. Contact Giddens & Gatton Law, PC at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at Giddens & Gatton Law, PC is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.