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Baird v. Crosthwait

Case Type:
Case Status:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit 19-60762 (5th Circuit, Dec 29,2020) Not Published
The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order, which had affirmed the bankruptcy court decision to not award the Plaintiff enhanced statutory damages for timber trespass, because the COA determined there was not way of demonstrating clear error as the bankruptcy court trial transcript was never provided to the district court. The COA also affirmed the bankruptcy court decision not to lift the automatic stay, because the COA did not find that the bankruptcy court abused its discretion.
Procedural context:
The Plaintiff sought to quiet title and recover damages for timber trespass asserting that the Debtor wrongfully cut timber belonging to the Plaintiff. The bankruptcy court awarded over $110,000 in damages plus fees and expenses in favor of the Plaintiff, but the bankruptcy court declined to modify or lift the automatic stay to allow the Plaintiff to collect on the money judgment. The bankruptcy court also determined that the Mississippi provision for enhanced statutory damages did not apply, because the record did not reflect that the Debtor acted willfully or recklessly when cutting timber belonging to Plaintiff. The Plaintiff appealed to the district court, but the Plaintiff failed to file the bankrutpcy court transcript. The district court found that the lack of a trial transcript made any determination of error almost impossible. The Plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Allen Crosthwait (Debtor) filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. In 2015, David Baird (Plaintiff) filed a complaint in state court against the Debtor. This action was removed to the bankruptcy court. The complaint sought to quiet title and recover damages for alleged timber trespass under Mississippi law.
The Hons. Davis, Stewart, and Dennis

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