In re: Hill, No. 19-5861 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 2010, Hill, a principal of Meridian and the other principals sold Meridian to CMCO; the former Meridian principals were to work for CMCO. In 2012, Hill accepted employment with CMCO’s competitor, Peoples. CMCO filed suit, alleging that he breached his contract and shared trade secrets. CMCO settled its claims against Peoples. Hill proceeded pro se. Hill failed to attend a pretrial conference. The state court granted a default judgment. Hill also declined to appear for the damages trial. Hill asserts that he never received the order scheduling a pretrial conference but admits that he was initially aware of the date. Hill further acknowledged that he knew of the trial date because he spoke with the judge by phone and was warned that if he did not appear “adverse things [were] likely [to] happen.” He contends that a bankruptcy attorney he was consulting advised him that he need not participate because any judgments would “go away” in bankruptcy. The court granted CMCO judgment, finding Hill’s actions willful, intentional, in bad faith, egregious, and done with malice. The court awarded $3,417,477.
Hill then filed his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy court lifted the automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. 362(d), with respect to CMCO’s judgment.CMCO filed an adversary proceeding. The court found the damages judgment nondischargeable, 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A), (a)(4), (a)(6), applying collateral estoppel based on the state court finding that Hill’s actions caused “willful and malicious injury.” Hill unsuccessfully sought to vacate the state court judgment. The district and Sixth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court’s grant of summary judgment to CMCO. ” The state court damages judgment provided preclusive effect to the determination of the nondischargeability of Hill’s debt.