United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
K. MOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is on appeal (dkts. 1 & 1-1) from an order of this
District's Bankruptcy Court granting appellee's
motion for summary judgment and denying the debtor-appellant
a discharge. (Dkt 1-2). On July 23, 2014, Debtor Philip
Groggins (“Groggins”) filed a Chapter 13
bankruptcy petition, which the Bankruptcy Court later
converted to a Chapter 7 petition. (Dkt. 1-2 at 1).
Subsequently, Groggins was indicted on-and pled guilty
to-bankruptcy fraud in this District, based on his failure to
disclose a prior bankruptcy petition filed in Maryland.
See United States v. Groggins, No. 6:14-cr-00021
result, the United States Trustee (“U.S.
Trustee”) objected to any bankruptcy discharge. She
argued that Groggins' bankruptcy fraud conviction
collaterally estopped him from contending that he had not
made a false oath in connection with his Virginia bankruptcy
case, and thus a discharge was unwarranted. (Dkt. 5-7 at 3-4;
dkt. 5-10 at 2-4; see 11 U.S.C. 727(a)(4)). The
Bankruptcy Court agreed. (Dkt. 1-2). Because the principles
of collateral estoppel apply so as to deny Groggins a
discharge, the Bankruptcy Court's order will be affirmed.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
briefly summarize the background of this case, Groggins filed
a bankruptcy petition in Maryland in 2014, which was quickly
dismissed. He then filed a bankruptcy petition in Virginia,
but failed to disclose his Maryland petition. Based on this
omission, he was charged with and pled guilty to bankruptcy
fraud for making a false oath.
specifically, in April 2014, Groggins petitioned the
bankruptcy court in Maryland, but the petition was dismissed
six days later. (Dkt. 10 at ECF 52). In July 2014, he filed
the bankruptcy petition in Virginia that underlies this
appeal. (Id. at ECF 53). The Virginia petition
failed to disclose that Groggins had filed the Maryland
petition. (Id.). Based on that and other omissions,
the Government indicted Groggins in the Western District of
Virginia on October 16, 2014 for, inter alia, a
count of bankruptcy fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
152(3). (Id. at ECF 55).
subsequently pled guilty before me to the bankruptcy fraud
count in late 2014. (Dkt. 10 at ECF 57, 65, 70). On May 22,
2015, I entered the criminal judgment, sentencing Groggins to
27 months imprisonment on the bankruptcy fraud count, to run
concurrently with his sentence on another count.
(Id. at ECF 71-72). Approximately two months later,
the U.S. Trustee asked the Bankruptcy Court to deny Groggins
a discharge in the Virginia bankruptcy case. (Id. at
ECF 10-13). She argued that his guilty plea and criminal
conviction in this Court for bankruptcy fraud (for omitting,
in his Virginia bankruptcy petition, mention of his Maryland
bankruptcy petition) conclusively established that he
“made a false oath or account” in
“connection with th[e Virginia bankruptcy] case,
” thus justifying a denial of discharge under 11 U.S.C.
§ 727(a)(4)(A). (Id.; see also id. at
ECF 21-24). The Bankruptcy Court agreed, and this appeal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 applies to bankruptcy proceedings
like the one that underlies this appeal. See Fed. R.
Bank. P. 7056. Accordingly, summary judgment is proper
“if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” A material fact is one
“that might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In order to preclude
summary judgment, the dispute about a material fact must be
“‘genuine, ' that is, if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id.; see also JKC
Holding Co. v. Washington Sports Ventures, Inc., 264
F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001). However, if the evidence of a
genuine issue of material fact “is merely colorable or
is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. In
considering a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, a
court must view the record as a whole and draw all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-24 (1986); Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798
(4th Cir. 1994).
courts are accorded “broad discretion to
determine” whether collateral estoppel is justified.
Parklane Hosiery Co. v. Shore, 439 U.S. 322, 331
(1979); e.g., Sales v. Grant, 158 F.3d 768,
781 (4th Cir. 1998).
Application of Collateral Estoppel
are five elements that must be satisfied to apply the