UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
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NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
MARY GODEK HALL, No. 96-12904
MICHAEL STEVEN SMITH,
v. A.P. No. 96-1335
MARY GODEK HALL,
Memorandum of Decision
On July 31, 1997, plaintiff Michael Smith and defendant Mary Hall entered into a settlement of
this adversary proceeding. Under the terms of the settlement, a large nondischargeable judgment would
be entered against Hall, but no action would be taken to enforce the judgment so long as Hall made
certain payments. The judgment was entered on September 30, 1997.
Hall did not make all the payments as agreed, and Smith began enforcing the judgment. On
December 31, 1998, Hall moved the court for relief from entry of the judgment and a stay of its
execution, arguing that she has substantially complied with the terms of the settlement and that Smith
has waived his right to declare Hall in breach of the settlement agreement by accepting payments from
The motion states no grounds whatsoever justifying vacation of the judgment. The "excusable
neglect" cited by Hall has to do with payments under the settlement agreement, not entry of the
judgment itself, and in any event her motion was filed more than one year after entry of the judgment.
The crux of the motion is that under the terms of a 16-page settlement agreement, which was
not even made part of the record in this case until 15 months after entry of judgment, Smith is not
entitled to enforce the judgment. This is a state contract law dispute, and has nothing to do with the
judgment itself or federal bankruptcy law.
Smith argues that this court has no jurisdiction over this motion, citing In re Hunter
, 66 F.3d
Cir. 1995). However, that case dealt with an independent action, not a motion brought under
FRCP 60. The court has jurisdiction to hear the motion, but sees no reason why it should rule on most
of the issues it raises. Neither the rights of the bankruptcy estate nor the debtor's discharge rights are at
issue. If the same issues had been raised by independent action, under Hunter
the court could not hear
it. The court will accordingly abstain from hearing the contract issues pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
For the foregoing reasons, the court will order as follows:
1. Insofar as the motion seeks relief under FRCP 60(b)(1), it will be denied with prejudice.
2. Insofar as the motion seeks a determination of Hall's rights under the settlement agreement,
the motion will be denied without prejudice to proceedings in state court. Counsel for Smith shall
submit an appropriate form of order.
Dated: January 31, 1999 ____________________________
United States Bankruptcy