United States District Court, S.D. Texas
In re Herman E. Hoffman, Debtor.
Leslie Maybin, et al., Appellees. Herman Hoffman, Appellant, Adversary No. 16-3222
OPINION ON APPEAL
N. Hughes United States District Judge.
E. Hoffman and Kathleen Hoffman owned 211 horses. Five of the
horses - four registered Quarter Horses and one registered
American Paint Horse - are the subject of the case against
worked for the Hoffmans from 2010 to 2014. They did not pay
him. In early June 2015, Maybin was laid off from his job at
an oil and gas company. On June 22", he contacted
Hoffman - through text message - asking whether he had work
for him. Hoffman replied that he did. That day, Maybin went
to the ranch to help feed the horses and clean the barns.
next day, Maybin worked until 2:00 p.m. Nine hours later,
Hoffman called him asking if he wanted several horses. Maybin
replied that he did and would pick them up the next day.
Hoffman told him that if he wanted the horses, he needed to
come get them that night. Maybin arrived at the ranch a few
gave Karen Hatch a copy of the bill of sale to give to
Maybin. It is backdated to June 8, 2015. It also identifies
Hoffman as the seller, Maybin as the buyer, and lists the
names often horses. It is signed by K Hoffman.
says that he understood the exchange to be for money the
Hoffmans owed him. He insists that no discussion of payment
occurred. In addition, he claims that Hoffman did not ask him
to complete or sign additional paperwork. In fact, Hoffman
told him that Karen Hatch, a ranch volunteer, had the
original bill of the sale. Hoffman claims he asked Maybin for
the return of the paperwork and documents. Maybin says that
he gave it to the district attorney.
after, Maybin picked up five of the nine horses from the
barn. He says that because the horses were in "bad
shape" and could hardly stand, his trailer could not
hold all nine at once.
Montgomery County constable stopped Maybin on his drive home.
The constable asked about the horses. He told Maybin that
they were not allowed to be removed from Hoffman's
property because they were under investigation. Maybin was
instructed not to return to the ranch. Montgomery County
investigators arrived at Maybin's home the next morning.
They informed him that the horses were "seized in
place" and not to be moved.
veterinarian, Cameron Stoudt, examined the horses when they
arrived on Maybin's property. She testified that they
were neglected, mistreated, and malnourished. In addition,
the horses had no monetary value.
Maybin has taken possession of the horses, he has
rehabilitated them and paid $800 per day for their veterinary
treatment. All five horses are in good health and continue to
live on Maybin's property.
19, 2016, Hoffman filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 12
of the Bankruptcy Code. On June 23rd, he filed an adversary
proceeding. In his complaint, Hoffman sues Maybin for (1) a
declaratory judgment that the horses belong to Hoffman, (2)
breach of contract, (3) conversion, and (4) return of the
horses, including fraudulent transfer under 11 U.S.C. §
548. On July 31, 2017, Hoffman filed a civil suit.
bankruptcy hearing, Hoffman argues that he had an oral
contract with Maybin because the court did not adopt
sale-related documents. The court asked the parties to
consider selling the horses.
Hoffman testified that Maybin agreed to pay $120, 000 - in
cash - for the horses. Maybin had recently been laid off.
Hoffman did ...