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In re Huonder

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 29, 2016

In re: John F. Huonder; Tonnie Jo Huonder Debtors
v.
Champion Milking Systems, LLC Defendant-Appellee John F. Huonder; Tonnie Jo Huonder Plaintiffs - Appellants

          Submitted: August 12, 2016

         Appeal from United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul

          Before SCHERMER, NAIL, and SHODEEN, Bankruptcy Judges.

          NAIL, Bankruptcy Judge.

         Debtors John F. Huonder and Tonnie Jo Huonder appeal the February 25, 2016 judgment of the bankruptcy court[1] sanctioning Champion Milking Systems, LLC ("Champion") for violating the discharge injunction. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Debtors commenced an adversary proceeding against Champion, seeking compensatory damages, general damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees for Champion's alleged violations of the discharge injunction.[2] After hearing the matter, the bankruptcy court entered two orders.

         The first order awarded Debtors general damages of $1, 000.00 for Champion's violation of the discharge injunction and directed Debtors to file an itemized statement of their attorney fees and costs. The second order, entered after Debtors had complied with the first order, awarded Debtors attorney fees of $1, 500.00 for Champion's violation of the discharge injunction and directed the entry of judgment in Debtors' favor for both the general damages awarded in the first order and the attorney fees awarded in the second order. The bankruptcy court did not award Debtors compensatory damages or punitive damages.

         The bankruptcy clerk entered judgment in Debtors' favor as directed by the bankruptcy court. Debtors timely appealed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review the bankruptcy court's award of sanctions for an abuse of discretion. Missouri Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Spencer (In re Spencer), 550 B.R. 766, 769 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2016).

A court abuses its discretion when a relevant factor that should have been given significant weight is not considered; when an irrelevant or improper factor is considered and given significant weight; or when all proper factors and no improper ones are considered, but the court commits a clear error of judgment in weighing those factors.

City of Duluth v. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 702 F.3d 1147, 1152 (8th ...


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