27 F.3d 406 (9th Cir. 1994), 92-16788, In re Siragusa

Docket Nº:92-16788.
Citation:27 F.3d 406
Party Name:In re Vincent SIRAGUSA, Debtor. Vincent SIRAGUSA, Debtor-Appellant, v. Joanne SIRAGUSA, Creditor-Appellee.
Case Date:June 20, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 406

27 F.3d 406 (9th Cir. 1994)

In re Vincent SIRAGUSA, Debtor.

Vincent SIRAGUSA, Debtor-Appellant,

v.

Joanne SIRAGUSA, Creditor-Appellee.

No. 92-16788.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 20, 1994

Argued and Submitted March 18, 1994.

Rene Ellen Feinstein, David A. Riggi, Hale, Lane, Peek, Dennison & Howard, Las Vegas, NV, for debtor-appellant.

Joshua M. Landish, Barry R. Shinehouse, Shinehouse & Duesing, Las Vegas, NV, for creditor-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada.

Page 407

Before: D.W. NELSON, BOOCHEVER and BEEZER, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge D.W. NELSON.

D.W. NELSON, Circuit Judge:

Dr. Vincent Siragusa appeals from the district court's judgment affirming the bankruptcy court's dismissal of his complaint based on comity. The bankruptcy court dismissed the action because it already was being litigated in state court. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

After 15 years of marriage, Dr. Siragusa and Joanne Siragusa were divorced in 1983. In the divorce decree, Dr. Siragusa agreed to pay Ms. Siragusa alimony of $3,000 per month for 60 months ("the alimony"). He also agreed to a division of the marital property that required him to purchase her share of the medical practice for $1.25 million, payable in monthly installments at 9% interest ("the property settlement").

Dr. Siragusa defaulted on these alimony and property settlement payments, and on November 5, 1987, the state court reduced these arrearages to judgment in favor of Ms. Siragusa. However, the court stayed enforcement of the judgment for one week, and in the interim, Dr. Siragusa filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for the primary purpose of obtaining a discharge of the approximately $1.2 million still owed on the property settlement.

Under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 523(a)(5), alimony debts are not dischargeable. Therefore, the bankruptcy court required Dr. Siragusa to pay Ms. Siragusa $7,500 a month until the alimony arrearages that had been reduced to judgment in state court were paid. However, because debts stemming from property settlements are dischargeable in bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 727, on May 4, 1988, the bankruptcy court discharged Dr. Siragusa's property settlement obligation.

Dr. Siragusa paid off the alimony arrearages as scheduled and one day prior to...

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