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Bienert & Miller & Katzman, PLC - Our Cases

Bienert Miller & Katzman, PLC Selected as Counsel for the Official Retiree Committee in the City of San Bernardino Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Matter. 
The Committee serves as a representative and fiduciary to the interests of the approximately 2,000 retired employees (the “Retirees”) in the City’s bankruptcy. Bienert, Miller & Katzman has zealously represented the interests of the Retirees, negotiating with the City to ensure that the Committee has a represented voice in the process, seeking clarification with the Court to confirm that a claims bar deadline is not imposed prematurely on Retirees and substantively participating in the Court ordered mediation sessions, dialoguing with the City, California Public Employees' Retirement System (“CalPERS”), labor unions and other parties in interest to ensure that the restructuring process is fair, transparent and protects the Retirees. 

The stakes for the Retirees are significant as the City has taken the unprecedented step of deferring millions of dollars in CalPERS obligations after the City’s filing but before the Court ordered that the City’s bankruptcy filing could proceed. However, Bienert, Miller & Katzman is well suited for serving the Committee’s interests, with Steve Katzman’s prior service as both United States Trustee for five Judicial Districts and work as coordinator of the Bankruptcy Fraud Task Force for the United States Attorney in the Central District of California.

Marc S. Kirschner, as Trustee of the Yellowstone Club Liquidating Trust v. Timothy Blixseth
Representing the trustee of the liquidating trust formed under the bankruptcy reorganization plan of the Yellowstone Mountain Club, LLC, Steve Katzman and Tony Bisconti, along with co-counsel in Texas and West Virginia, successfully defended against a counterclaim filed by the former president and CEO of the club alleging breach of contract, conspiracy, and RICO violations, and seeking six billion dollars in damages. The court ordered the dismissal of the counterclaim, with prejudice, along with denial of a motion to amend the counterclaim. Additionally, the court granted a motion for sanctions filed on behalf of our client, awarding fees and costs incurred in defending against the vexatious counterclaim. In awarding fees, the court held that

"[E]xtensive strategy, review, analysis, and communications performed by both BMK and [co-counsel] B&G were substantive in nature and necessary, addressing complex substantive and procedural issues arising in this case due to several factors, including but not limited to: the nature of the specious claims asserted by Mr. Blixseth; the preexisting litigation across several forums; and complex legal questions of intersecting state, federal, and bankruptcy law."

Read the decision granting the motion to dismiss and imposing sanctions.
 

Spear v. Cyprus
Thomas H. Bienert, Jr. and Luis A. Feldstein secured the dismissal with prejudice of a federal civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint made baseless claims that BMK’s client had defrauded mortgage lenders through the use of straw buyers to purchase properties. After the plaintiff’s initial complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim and on other grounds, the plaintiff filed two amended complaints that also were dismissed on based on the arguments advanced by BMK and co-counsel.
 
United States v. Sou
Thomas H. Bienert, Jr. and Anne Uyeda scored a significant victory for their client in the human trafficking prosecution of prominent Hawaii farm owners Alec and Mike Sou. After one week of trial in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, the government moved to dismiss the indictment after determining it could not meet its burden of proof. 
 
Diversified Trust Deed Fund v. Stanley E. Fulton
Litigating a case of first impression on interpretation of reasonably equivalent value under the Nevada Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act in cases alleging actual fraud, Steve Katzman and Luis Feldstein, along with Nevada co-counsel, successfully defended a lawsuit brought by the liquidating agent and manager of a mortgage company against a prominent Las Vegas resident, accused of receiving a fraudulent conveyance and receipt of stolen property. Summary Judgment was successively obtained against the Fund in favor of our client before the Bankruptcy Court and was affirmed by the District Court, paving the way to a successful resolution and recognition by the Plaintiff that our client did not engage in any wrongful conduct. 
 
In re South Coast Oil Corporation
Steve Katzman and Anne Uyeda, representing a prominent Oil & Gas Company and two of its principals, successfully obtained the discharge of an Order to Show Cause for the alleged violation of a Temporary Restraining Order.  
Read the Bankruptcy Court Statement of Decision here. 

Girgis v. Gonzales
Kenneth M. Miller, working pro bono through the Ninth Circuit mediation program, was able to have his client’s deportation vacated and removal proceedings reopened so his client (an asylum seeker) could seek adjustment of status before DHS. In April 2012, Mr. Girgis became a U.S. citizen.
Case No.04-73631 (9th Cir. 2007)
 
Curran v. Curran
Steve Katzman and Ariana Hawbecker successfully obtained a non dischargeable judgment related to misrepresentations between former spouses related to acquisition and sale of residence. 
 
United States v. Sanchez
Kenneth M. Miller successfully argued the wrongful denial of  defendant's new trial motion (based on evidence that the government informant committed perjury during trial). The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, without an evidentiary hearing, the District Court again denied the new trial motion. Mr. Miller appealed the second denial, and the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions for the District Court to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the credibility of the new evidence. After further discovery and investigation, Mr. Miller convinced the government to stipulate to a new trial, then settled the case, reducing his client’s life sentence to 12 years.
 
United States v. Sarshad
Thomas H. Bienert, Jr., Luis A. Feldstein, and Christi Coles scored a major victory by securing a not-guilty verdict on all charges against their client (Sarshad) after a seven-week trial in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The 75-count indictment alleged Sarshad and three other doctors, had billed Medicare for respiratory treatments that were never administered or were done so in violation of Medicare regulations. The 12-member jury unanimously acquitted Sarshad, deciding that the government failed to prove Sarshad had any knowledge of the questionable billing practices. Read the Opinion
 
United States v. Manderson
Kenneth M. Miller successfully challenged the District Court’s valuation of restitution.  The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the order of restitution.
 
In re Parsley
Steve Katzman, co-lead counsel for the United States Trustee Program, was recognized for his legal work by the United States Bankruptcy Court in a published decision: "The Court would also note that the discovery conducted by the UST, and its examination of witnesses at the show cause hearings, has been very thorough and skillful. . . . .The Court greatly respects the UST's work in this case." 
 
United States v. Lazar
Thomas H. Bienert, Jr. won a favorable result for his client, Lazar, who pled guilty in the Milberg Weiss case in which the government alleged a kickback scheme involving class-action lawsuits.
 
Rinella v. Stabile
After a two week trial, a jury awarded our client $1.7 million verdict in legal malpractice case. 
 
In Re San Diego Diocese Bankruptcy
Steve Katzman extensively examined Bishop Robert Brom of the San Diego Diocese in relation the Diocese bankruptcy, assets and liabilities. Read about the examination at:
 
United States v. Lenz, et al.
Thomas H. Bienert, Jr. and Christi Coles secured a mistrial in the Peregrine Systems financial-fraud trial after jury deadlocked over all counts for all four defendants. Representing a former Peregrine Systems executive, Mr. Bienert successfully argued that federal prosecutors failed to show that his client, Gary Lenz, intentionally joined in the corporate conspiracy to defraud investors. 
 
In Re: Lloyd Myles Rucker
After a 4 day evidentiary hearing, the Court Disallowed Retirement Accounts To Shield Assets From Collection and concluded that the Pension Plan and 40l(k) Plans were not set up and funded primarily for retirement purposes, but rather to improperly shield and hide assets to frustrate Movant's efforts to collect on the Judgment. Read Judge John E. Ryan's decision.
 
Gnesda v. UPS
After a 3 week trial, an LA jury awarded our client a $21 million verdict in wrongful termination case. 
Read the Opinion  
 
United States v. Nielson/Meyers
Based on the efforts of Thomas H. Bienert, Jr. and Christi Coles, District Court reconsidered and then lowered criminal restitution order from $4 million to $490,000. 
Read the Order
 
Caliendo v. Warden
Kenneth M. Miller secured a reversal for three-strike defendant serving life sentence. The Ninth Circuit concluded “that Caliendo must be released or granted a new trial.” Habeas relief was granted and Caliendo was released.
 
United States v. Woods
Kenneth M. Miller successfully argued that the District Court erroneously applied two sentencing enhancements. The Ninth Circuit vacated Ms. Woods’ sentence and remanded to the District Court where her sentence was reduced from 87 to 51 months.
 
Branch v. Butler
Kenneth M. Miller successfully argued that District Court erred in relying on a minute order that his client (a pro se petitioner) claimed was inaccurate. 
 
United States v. Moore
Kenneth M. Miller succeeded in having client’s sentence reversed and remanded. Mr. Miller was ultimately able to reduce client’s sentence from 168 to 120 months.
 
Waldo v. Alameida
Kenneth M. Miller successfully appealed the denial of habeas petition as untimely. 
 
Nelson v. Ratelle
Kenneth M. Miller appealed the District Court’s dismissal of habeas petition as time barred. The Ninth Circuit reversed and ordered the District Court to proceed with Nelson’s petition.
 
Thomas v. Roe
Denial of habeas petition reversed and remanded.
 
McCloskey, et al. v. City of Inglewood, et al.
Appeal of denial race discrimination claim dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Read the Opinion  Case No. 00-55973 (9th Cir. 2000)
 
United States v. Anderson
Kenneth M. Miller secured a reversal of his client’s manslaughter conviction.  The Ninth Circuit found ”the omission of an involuntary manslaughter instruction ‘seriously affected the fairness, integrity, or public reputation’ of Miranda and Anderson’s trial.”  
 
United States v. Vargas-Lopez
Conviction and sentence vacated and remanded.
 
United States v. McKinney
Sentence vacated and remanded for the District Court to award a two-level reduction in his base offense level for acceptance of responsibility.