United States District Court, D. Idaho
IN RE PRAVEEN K. KHURANA, Debtor.
STATE OF IDAHO, CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES, Appellee. PRAVEEN K. KHURANA, Appellant, Adv. No. 19-07002-TLM
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
H. WHALEY SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
before the Court is pro se Appellant Praveen K. Khurana's
appeal from two orders issued by the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the District of Idaho, which dismissed Mr.
Khurana's adversary proceeding against the State of
Idaho, Child Support Services. The Court has reviewed Mr.
Khurana's opening brief, ECF No. 16, his supplemental
opening brief, ECF No. 17, Child Support Services'
responsive brief, ECF No. 18, as well as the documents filed
in both this appeal and the underlying adversary proceeding.
Being fully informed, the Court affirms the orders of the
Court has jurisdiction over “final judgments, orders,
and decrees” of bankruptcy judges pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 158(a)(1). These include orders of dismissal in
adversary proceedings, like those at issue here. In re
Reynolds, 455 B.R. 312, 318 (D. Mass. 2011).
Khurana filed a bankruptcy petition in January 2013,
commencing Case No. 13-20058-TLM. In September 2013, he
received a chapter 7 discharge, see 11 U.S.C. §
727, and the matter was closed as a “no-asset”
case. In June 2015, Mr. Khurana moved to reopen the case and
those proceedings remain ongoing.
January 2019, Mr. Khurana filed a pro se “Complaint for
Adversary Proceeding - Violation of Lift of Automatic Stay by
State of Idaho (Department) of Subject Child Support
Enforcement Order, ” which commenced this adversary
proceeding, No. 19-07002-TLM. The complaint alleged that
Child Support Services was enforcing and collecting upon a
Canadian child support order that provided for the support of
Mr. Khurana's two children, both of whom live in Canada.
Mr. Khurana alleged that Child Support Services' actions:
(1) violated the automatic stay provisions of 11 U.S.C.
§ 362(a); (2) violated the Hague Convention; (3)
caused him to overpay based on its failure to properly apply
the current exchange rate; and (4) violated his rights under
the U.S. Constitution because of his inability to access the
Canadian courts. He also asserted that Canada was an
“impossible forum” for him to appear in, given
his lack of a Canadian visa and limited financial means.
Finally, he made various contentions about the sufficiency of
the Canadian court's notice, its personal jurisdiction,
and its impartiality. Mr. Khurana also issued deposition
subpoenas to Deputy Attorney General Douglas Fleenor and
Bureau Chief of Child Support Services Robert Rinard.
Support Services moved to dismiss Mr. Khurana's complaint
and also moved to quash the two deposition subpoenas. In
March 2019, the Bankruptcy Court held a hearing, heard
argument from both parties, and took the matter under
March 29, 2019, the Bankruptcy Court issued an order granting
Child Support Services' motion to dismiss and also issued
an accompanying Memorandum of Decision. In its Memorandum,
the Bankruptcy Court first noted that it lacked jurisdiction
to adjudicate many of the counts in Mr. Khurana's
complaint-such as the count alleging a “violation of
the Hague Convention”-as its jurisdiction was limited
to bankruptcy matters. See 28 U.S.C. § 1334.
The court also noted that it would abstain from addressing
the various issues regarding the collections processes, the
Canadian judicial procedures, and whether the children's
ages or occupations should operate to reduce the underlying
child support obligation, as these matters were best
litigated in other forums. Consequently, the court determined
that it would focus on Mr. Khurana's allegations that
Child Support Services violated the automatic stay and/or the
discharge injunction by attempting to collect the owed child
respect to these allegations, the court noted that the
Bankruptcy Code exempts “domestic support
obligations” from both the automatic stay and from
discharge. See 11 U.S.C. §§ 362(b)(2)(B),
523(a)(5). The court also noted that Mr. Khurana appeared to
concede that Child Support Services was in fact pursuing
“child support, ” even if he took issue with the
claimed amounts, or the “collection fees”
assessed, or the exchange rates. Accordingly, the court found
that the obligations at issue were “domestic support
obligations” within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code
and therefore that Child Support Services' collection
efforts did not violate the automatic stay or the discharge
injunction. Finally, the court granted Child Support
Services' motion to quash Mr. Khurana's deposition
April 3, 2019, Mr. Khurana timely appealed from the
Bankruptcy Court's order dismissing the complaint and its
accompanying memorandum of decision. ECF No. 1 at 1-2;
see Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002(a)(1).
Standard of Review
reviewing a bankruptcy court's decision, a district court
functions as an appellate court and applies the standards of
review generally applied in federal court appeals. In re
Crystal Properties, Ltd., 268 F.3d 743, 755 (9th Cir.
2001). Thus, this Court reviews the Bankruptcy Court's
legal conclusions and interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code
de novo and its factual findings for clear error. In re
Green, 583 F.3d 614, 618 (9th Cir. 2009); In re
Andrews, 155 B.R. 769, 770 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1993).
it did not expressly state as such, the Bankruptcy Court
dismissed Mr. Khurana's complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), made applicable to this
adversary proceeding under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy
Procedure 7012(b), for failure to state claims upon which
relief can be granted. Accordingly, the Court must accept as
true all facts alleged in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of Mr. Khurana. In re
Tracht Gut, LLC, 836 F.3d 1146, 1150 (9th Cir. 2016).
However, the Court does not have to accept conclusory
allegations in the complaint as true. Id. To survive
a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must aver in the complaint
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Id. at 1151 (quoting Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ...