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Joseph Hill v. Raquel King

Summarizing by J Newman

Phoenician Mediterranean Villa, LLC v. Swope (In re J&S Properties)

Case Type:
Case Status:
16-3366 (3rd Circuit, Sep 28,2017) Published
As trustees are government officials, the doctrine of "qualified immunity" applies to discretionary actions taken by a trustee to preserve the estate's assets. "Qualified immunity" shields government officials who are performing discretionary functions from civil liability except if the conduct violates clearly established statutory or constitutional rights. Trustee's argument that trustee's acts violated state law against self-help eviction failed because trustee was also subject to duties imposed by bankruptcy code. Here, trustee was acting property to preserve the estate's value.
Procedural context:
Trustee filed an emergency motion to gain immediate possession of leased property. Tenant filed complaint in equity seeking to regain possession, and suing trustee for wrongful eviction. Bankruptcy Court granted trustee's motion to dismiss the complaint against her based on the doctrine of "quasi-judicial immunity." The District Court affirmed.
Debtor's main asset was a building, which it leased to Phoenician, a restaurant. After Debtor filed for chapter 7, the trustee rejected the lease. The trustee, debtor and tenant met prior to an anticipated arctic blast, and tenant gave the trustee a key (which it later turned out did not open the premises) and agreed to keep heat on so that pipes would not burst. After tenant's failure to keep heat on caused pipes to burst, tenant failed to cooperate with efforts to bring a disaster restoration company in or to discuss insurance on property. Debtor then changed the locks and gave the trustee a key. On the same day, she filed the emergency motion to regain possession of the property. Tenant alleged that trustee wrongfully evicted it when it took the key.
Hardiman, Roth, Fisher

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