Barton v. Carthan (In re Carthan)

Full title: In re: Tacarra Sheana Carthan Debtor(s). Carmen Barton, Anthony Carthan…

Court: UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN FERNANDO VALLEY DIVISION

Case No.: 1:19-bk-12727-MT Adv No: 1:19-ap-01135-MT

Date published: Apr 13, 2021

Fact:

Tacarra Sheana Carman/Williams filed a lawsuit against Anthony Carthan and Carmen Barton alleging emotional distress, which stemmed from previous allegations of child abuse made by Williams against Carthan and Barton. The state court had previously ruled in favor of Carthan and Barton in a defamation action related to the same allegations of child abuse.

Issue:

The issue in this case is whether the judgment against Williams in the malicious prosecution action should be deemed non-dischargeable under §523(a)(6) of the bankruptcy code, considering the elements of malicious prosecution, including lack of probable cause and malice.

Decision:

The court found that the judgment against Williams for malicious prosecution was non-dischargeable under §523(a)(6). It determined that Williams lacked probable cause in initiating the emotional distress lawsuit against Carthan and Barton, as the allegations of child abuse had already been rejected by the state court in the defamation action, and investigations by the Department of Child and Family Services and the Long Beach Police Department found no evidence of abuse. Additionally, the court found that Williams acted with malice in pursuing the emotional distress lawsuit, as her actions were primarily intended to inflict harm or seek retribution against Carthan and Barton. Consequently, the court awarded damages of $3,015.11 to Carthan and Barton and dismissed the §727 cause of action. Anthony Carthan’s claims under §523(a)(5) were denied without prejudice to renew in Superior Court.

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