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Full title: Motion for Relief from Stay . Fee Amount $188. Filed by Jeremy Gettes of Gertler Law Firm on behalf of Angela Freeman (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit State Court Petition # 2 Exhibit Dismissal of Cathloic Mutual # 3 Exhibit Settlement Offer # 4 Exhibit Notice of Suggestion) (Gettes, Jeremy) (Entered: 07/15/2021)
Document posted on Jul 14, 2021 in the bankruptcy, 7 pages and 0 tables.
Bankrupt11 Summary (Automatically Generated)
Pursuant to this motion and 11 U.S.C. § 362(d), Ms. Freeman seeks the entry of an orderdeclaring that the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) in effect in this case does not barclaimant adjudicating and enforcing her claims for personal injuries and damages in the statecourt matter against Wynhoven.it is a personal injury lawsuit against a separate legal entity, namely Chateau De Notre Damed/b/a/ Wynhoven Health Care Center, which has separate property and assets from that ofthe Archdiocese.Here, Wynhoven’s Notice of Suggestion of Bankruptcy was filed solely as litigation tacticto disrupt Ms. Freeman’s August 9, 2021 jury trial date in state court.Moreover, Ms. Freeman’s lawsuit is not against the Archdiocese; it solely involves a generalnegligence claim against Wynhoven nursing home, which is a completely separate entitywith its own bank accounts and assets.WHEREFORE, Angela Freeman prays that, after notice and hearing, this Honorable Courtenter an order confirming that the automatic stay in effect does not bar Ms. Freeman from (I)adjudicating and liquidating her claims for personal injuries and damages to a judgment in the CivilDistrict Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana against Chateau De Notre Dame d/b/a/Wynhoven Health Care Center; (ii) executing or enforcing any judgment obtained as to Wynhovenonly; (iii) conducting a judgment debtor examination should a judgment against Wynhoven be6 obtained; and (iv) to the extent that any judgment obtained as to Wynhoven not be satisfied or paidin full by Wynhoven, to have the balance thereof or remaining deficiency enforced only in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and within the Chapter 11 proceedings against the insurer that insurers bothWynhoven and the Archdiocese.
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Document ContentsUNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA IN RE: CASE NO. 20-10846 THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF SECTION “A” THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS CHAPTER 11 DEBTOR MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM AUTOMATIC STAY NOW INTO COURT, through undersigned counsel, comes Angela Freeman, plaintiff inFreeman v. Chateau De Notre Dame, No. 2019-3289, Civil District Court, Orleans Parish whorespectfully submits the following Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d). EXPEDITED RELIEF HAS BEEN REQUESTED. MOVANT HAS REQUESTED THAT A HEARING BE CONDUCTED ON THIS MATTER ON JULY 22, 2020 AT1:30 PM BY TELEPHONE THROUGH THE DIAL-IN FOR SECTION A 1-999-684-8852; CONFERENCE CODE 9318283. IF YOU OBJECT TO THE RELIEFREQUESTED, OR YOU BELIEVE THAT EXPEDITED CONSIDERATION IS NOTWARRANTED, YOU MUST FILE A WRITTEN RESPONSE, WHICH MOVANT HASREQUESTED BE DUE ON OR BEFORE JULY 21, 2021 AT 5:00 PM. OTHERWISE,THE COURT MAY TREAT THE PLEADING AS UNOPPOSED AND GRANT THE RELIEF REQUESTED. In support of this motion, Ms. Freeman avers as follows: Jurisdiction 1. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 157(b)(2) and 1334. 2. This matter is a core proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(G). 3. The Court has the authority to grant the relief sought pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d). Venue 4. Venue for this matter is proper in the district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1408 and 1409.
1Procedure 5. Procedurally, this motion is governed by Bankruptcy Rules 4001 and 9014. Background 6. On, or about, March 29, 2018 Ms. Freeman went to Chateau de Notre Dame d/b/a WynhovenHealth Care Center (“Wynhoven”) to visit her mother, who was a resident at the nursinghome at that time. While walking down a hallway, Ms. Freeman suddenly slipped and fellon a wet spot, severely injuring herself. Specifically, she suffered a meniscus tear and anaggravation of a asymptomatic degenerative condition in her right knee, necessitatingsurgery. She also suffered a severe cartilage injury to her right ankle requiring multiplesurgeries. 7. As a result of the foregoing accident, on March 27, 2019 Ms. Freeman filed a Petition forDamages in Louisiana State Court, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, (“statecourt matter”) a copy of which is attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “1”. 8. Ms. Freeman’s lawsuit originally named the following two defendants: 1) Chateau De Notre Dame d/b/a Wynhoven Health Care Center (“Wynhoven”), aLouisiana non-profit corporation and; 2) Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America (“Catholic Mutual”), a foreign, non-profit insurance corporation licensed to do, and doing business in Louisiana, thatprovides liability coverage to Wynhoven. 9. Prior to the filing of Defendants’ answer, Ms. Freeman voluntarily dismissed CatholicMutual because Wynhoven’s counsel represented that Catholic Mutual was not, in fact, an2
2insurance company1, and therefore Ms. Freeman did not have a right to bring a direct actionunder La. R.S. 22:1269.2 Thus, the only remaining defendant in the state court matter isWynhoven. 10. The Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy on May 1, 2020. Nonetheless, Ms. Freeman andWynhoven have continuously engaged in discovery and motion practice for over a year sincethen. For example, Wynhoven filed a motion for summary judgment, which was heard anddenied by the state court judge on June 22, 2020. Recently, Wynhoven deposed Ms. Freemanon June 22, 2021 in order to obtain updated testimony regarding her injuries and upcomingankle surgery. Discovery is now complete and a jury trial is set to begin on August 9, 2021in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. 11. Counsel for the parties have recently engaged in settlement discussions. In fact, Wynhovenmade an offer – allegedly authorised by the Archdiocese – to settle Ms. Freeman’s case for$110,000 on June 28, 2021, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit “3”. 12. Ms. Freeman rejected Wynhoven’s June 28, 2021 settlement offer of $110,000. 13. Wynhoven then filed a “Notice of Suggestion of Bankruptcy” in the state court proceedingson July 1, 2021, which is attached as Exhibit “4". The basis of this notice is that Wynhovenand the Archdiocese “share insurance”. No previous Notice regarding the bankruptcy hadbeen filed into the docket. 1Instead, according to counsel for Wynhoven, “The Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America is a self funded indemnity program, exclusive to members of the Catholic Church Directory.” It does not meet the definition of “insurer” under the Louisiana Insurance Code La.R.S. 22:5 (2) . 2 See signed dismissal attached as Exhibit “2”. 3
314. Wynhoven is identified, by its new name, as “Notre Dame Health System (Chateau de NotreDame)” as one of the 151 Apostolates of the Archdiocese and has filed a Verified Statementunder Bankruptcy Rule 2019. (Doc 40). According to this statement “[t]he Apostolates areincorporated legal entities that possess their own employees, articles of incorporation, EINnumber, and bank accounts separate from the Archdiocese.” (Doc 40, pg. 1 of 6)(emphasis added). 15. Notre Dame Health System (Wynhoven) has filed a Proof of Claim as a Creditor in theArchdiocese bankruptcy proceeding.(Claim 68-1, dated 11/27/2020). However, despitelisting several court proceedings as giving rise to claims against the Archdiocese, Ms. Freeman’s claim is not listed. Thus, on one hand, Wynhoven suggests that it is relatedenough to the Archdiocese that this state court matter must be stayed, yet it does not list Ms. Freeman’s claim as one for reimbursement from the Archdiocese on the claim form. Wynhoven cannot have it both ways. Relief Requested 16. Pursuant to this motion and 11 U.S.C. § 362(d), Ms. Freeman seeks the entry of an orderdeclaring that the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) in effect in this case does not barclaimant adjudicating and enforcing her claims for personal injuries and damages in the statecourt matter against Wynhoven. 17. Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) the Archdiocese’s filing of its voluntary petition gives riseto a stay of (a) the commencement or continuation of any judicial, administrative, or otheraction or proceeding against the Debtor. Here, Ms. Freeman’s claim is not an action against“the debtor” ,i.e, the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Instead,4
4it is a personal injury lawsuit against a separate legal entity, namely Chateau De Notre Damed/b/a/ Wynhoven Health Care Center, which has separate property and assets from that ofthe Archdiocese. In fact, on the Archdiocese’s filed 207 form, Chateau De Notre Dame isidentified as owning assets in three bank accounts with Hancock Whitney Bank thattotal over 7.7 million dollars (Doc 103-1, pp. 606-607 of 656). 18. In summary, the extent of the Archdiocese’s only known relationship to Wynhoven is asfollows: 1) The Archdiocese and Wynhoven allegedly have the same “insurer”, Catholic MutualRelief Society of America . 2) The Archdiocese has listed “Notre Dame Health System (Chateau de Notre Dame)”as a “Other Non-Debtor Entity” in its “Potential Parties-in-Interest Schedule” (Doc10-1 Exhibit A Page 20 of 29). 3) Wynhoven has been listed as one of the 151 Apostolates of the Archdiocese. 4) Wynhoven is a Creditor of the Archdiocese as evidenced by its filing of a Proof ofClaim form. 19. Overall, “[b]ankruptcy courts have broad discretion to fashion relief from the automaticstay.” In re Barnes, 279 F. App’x 318, 319 (5th Cir. 2008). Some courts consider factors suchas (a) whether the bankruptcy was filed as a litigation tactic, (b) whether the case has aconnection with or interferes with the bankruptcy case, (c)whether the bankruptcy estate isprejudiced by the stay being lifted, and (d) whether the creditor seeking to lift the stay intendsto recover from the non-estate property, such as insurance proceeds. See In re Fowler, 259B.R. 856, 868 (Bankr. E.D. Tex 2021). 5
520. Here, Wynhoven’s Notice of Suggestion of Bankruptcy was filed solely as litigation tacticto disrupt Ms. Freeman’s August 9, 2021 jury trial date in state court. Wynhoven only filedits Notice of Suggestion of Bankruptcy after Ms. Freeman rejected Wynhoven’s last$110,000.00 settlement offer, and the jury trial was set to being in just a few weeks. 21. Moreover, Ms. Freeman’s lawsuit is not against the Archdiocese; it solely involves a generalnegligence claim against Wynhoven nursing home, which is a completely separate entitywith its own bank accounts and assets. These assets are more than enough to satisfy any statecourt judgment that Ms. Freeman may obtain. 22. Also, the bankruptcy estate will not be prejudiced by a lifting of the stay here as evidencedby the fact that Wynhoven has aggressively litigated the case for over a year after theArchdiocese filed for bankruptcy on May 1, 2020 without impacting the estate. Wynhoveneven offered to settle the case just two weeks ago for $110,000 with the alleged consent ofthe Archdiocese. 23. Finally, Ms. Freeman intends to recover any judgment obtained in state court fromWynhoven’s separate assets only, and not from the Archdiocese’s estate. As discussed above,Ms. Freeman dismissed Catholic Mutual as a defendant in this case years ago.. WHEREFORE, Angela Freeman prays that, after notice and hearing, this Honorable Courtenter an order confirming that the automatic stay in effect does not bar Ms. Freeman from (I)adjudicating and liquidating her claims for personal injuries and damages to a judgment in the CivilDistrict Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana against Chateau De Notre Dame d/b/a/Wynhoven Health Care Center; (ii) executing or enforcing any judgment obtained as to Wynhovenonly; (iii) conducting a judgment debtor examination should a judgment against Wynhoven be6
6obtained; and (iv) to the extent that any judgment obtained as to Wynhoven not be satisfied or paidin full by Wynhoven, to have the balance thereof or remaining deficiency enforced only in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and within the Chapter 11 proceedings against the insurer that insurers bothWynhoven and the Archdiocese. Respectfully submitted, GERTLER LAW FIRM L.L.P. /s/ Louis L. Gertler LOUIS L. GERTLER (LSBA #23091) JEREMY N. GETTES (LSBA #38231) 935 Gravier Street, Suite 1900 New Orleans, Louisiana 70112 Telephone: (504) 581-6411 Facsimile: (504) 581-6568 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Attorneys for Angela Freeman CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE This is to certify that a copy of the foregoing Motion was served on July 15, 2021 upon allparties by electronic case filing for those parties receiving notice via the Court’s Electronic CaseFiling System. /s/ Jeremy Gettes Jeremy Gettes 7