County of Sacramento v. Gorski et al
ORDER signed by District Judge George H. Wu on 01/12/2017 GRANTING 1 Motion to Withdraw Reference. A Status Conference is set for 2/2/2017 at 08:30 AM before District Judge George H. Wu; Parties will file a joint status report by noon on 1/31/2017; Telephone appearances are allowed provided notice is given to the clerk two business days prior to the hearing. (Jackson, T)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
County of Sacramento v. Gary Gorski, et al.
Present: The Honorable
January 12, 2017
GEORGE H. WU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court Reporter / Recorder
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs:
Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Rika Valdman, USDO
UNITED STATES’ MOTION TO WITHDRAW REFERENCE TO
BANKRUPTCY ADVERSARY PROCEEDING 
Counsel for Counter and Cross-Claimants is not present.
The Court’s Tentative Ruling is circulated and attached hereto. Court confers with government counsel.
Ms. Valdman informs the Court that Counter and Cross-Claimants Daniel Karalash and Robert Hunter
withdraw their Opposition. Counter and Cross-Claimants are ordered to file a written withdrawal of
their Opposition forthwith.
Based on the Tentative, and for reasons stated on the record, the United States’ Motion is GRANTED.
The Court sets a status conference for February 2, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. Parties will file a joint status report
by noon on January 31, 2017. Telephone appearances are allowed provided notice is given to the clerk
two business days prior to the hearing.
Initials of Preparer
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Page 1 of 1
County of Sacramento v. Gorski, et al. (In re: Gorski), Case No. Dist. Ct. No. 2:16-cv2611-GHW (BK); Adv. Proc. No. 14-2016; Bankruptcy Case No. 13-33139
Tentative Ruling on Motion to Withdraw Reference to Bankruptcy Court of Adversary
Proceeding [28 USC 157(D); FRBP 5011]
The United States of America (“USA”), on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”), moves, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(d)1 and Fed. R. Bankr. P. 5011(a)2, to
withdraw the reference of this adversary proceeding – an interpleader action concerning
the right to almost $200,000 in attorney’s fees awarded in connection with an underlying
action that itself had been litigated in the Eastern District of California – to the
Bankruptcy Court. See 2611 Docket No. 1.3
In 2006, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit was brought both individually and as a class
action by plaintiffs Robert Hunter and Howard Eley against the County of Sacramento
(“County”) and other defendants alleging excessive force by sheriff deputies at the
Sacramento County Main Jail. See Docket No. 1 in Hunter v. County of Sacramento,
Case No. 2:06-cv-00457-GEB-AC (E.D. Cal.) (references to the entries in the Hunter
lawsuit shall be to “Hunter Docket No.”). Plaintiffs’ counsel in that action were Gary
Gorski and Daniel Karalash. Id. In 2013, a jury returned verdicts in favor of the
Plaintiffs as to their individual excessive force claims awarding them each one dollar in
damages. Id. at Docket Nos. 186, 187. On October 11, 2013, the Hunter plaintiffs’
counsel were awarded attorney fees in the sum of $197,505.00. Id. at Docket No. 216.
On October 9, 2013, Gorski filed a voluntary Chapter 13 petition in the Eastern
District of California Bankruptcy Court, see Docket No. 1, In re Gorski, Bankruptcy Case
“The district court may withdraw, in whole or in part, any case or proceeding referred under this section,
on its own motion or on timely motion of any party, for cause shown. The district court shall, on timely
motion of a party, so withdraw a proceeding if the court determines that resolution of the proceeding
requires consideration of both title 11 and other laws of the United States regulating organizations or
activities affecting interstate commerce.” 28 U.S.C. § 157(d). “In determining whether cause exists, a
district court should consider the efficient use of judicial resources, delay and costs to the parties,
uniformity of bankruptcy administration, the prevention of forum shopping, and other related factors.” Sec.
Farms v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, Chauffers, Warehousemen & Helpers, 124 F.3d 999, 1008 (9th Cir.
Rule 5011(a) provides that “[a] motion for withdrawal of a case or proceeding shall be heard by a district
judge.” Fed. R. Bankr. P. 5011(a).
Unless otherwise noted, all references to docket entries in the present action, Case No. 2:16-cv-2611, shall
be designated as “2611 Docket No.”
No. 13-33139 (references to entries in the In re Gorski case shall be to “Gorski Docket
No.”). At Gorski’s request, the matter was converted to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Id. at
Docket No. 9. Listed as part of his Schedule B Personal Property was a “claim for
Attorney’s fees arising out of Hunter v. County of Sacramento et. al.” in the sum of
$98,500.00. Id., Docket No. 17 at ¶ 35. On January 14, 2014, the County filed a
Complaint in Interpleader as to $197,500.004 stating that: “Gorski claims half of the fee
award as personal property in the schedules submitted. The bankruptcy trustee, the
Internal Revenue Service and the County of Yolo each claim a competing interest in the
award.” Id., Docket No. 68 at 2. In September of 2016, certain interested parties reached
a settlement as to various items of property in Gorski’s bankruptcy estate including the
attorney’s fees in Hunter, and moved the court for approval of the settlement agreements.
Id. at Docket Nos. 915, 96. On October 6, 2016, the Bankruptcy Court approved a
compromise between Gorski, his client (Howard Eley) and the County regarding
distribution of that portion of the fees awarded to Eley. Id. at Docket No. 116. That
same day, the Bankruptcy Court also approved a compromise between Gorski and the
IRS which, among other things, resulted in the bankruptcy estate abandoning its claim to
the remainder of the interpleaded funds. Id. at Docket No. 117. On October 19, 2016,
two individuals – Daniel Karalash and Robert Hunter – appealed the order approving the
compromise between Gorski, Eley and the County, and filed a motion to stay the order
pending the appeal. Id. at Docket Nos. 128, 132.
The Interpleader Complaint states the amount as $197,500.00, but the attorney’s fess award in Hunter was
In the Motion to Approve Compromise as to the settlement between the Chapter 7 Trustee, Eley and the
County, it was delineated that: (1) Gorski and Karalash had agreed in writing between themselves that all
attorney’s fees would be split evenly between them regardless of how much each attorney worked on the
Hunter lawsuit; and (2) that Hunter and Gorski had entered into a written attorney-client contract which
. . . if the matter proceeds to trial, and a favorable judgment is obtained, all attorney’s fees
recoverable by statute shall be Attorney’s exclusively; and [Hunter] shall have no interest
or claim to said fees . . . . [and Hunter also] grant[ed] Attorney a lien on any and all
claims or causes of action that are the subject of Attorney’s representation under this
Gorski Docket No. 91 at 2. Further, it was also specifically noted that on March 9, 2016, during a status
conference in the interpleader action, “Hunter and Karalash, through counsel, waived any claim to the
amount of the Fee Award apportioned to Eley . . . .” Id. at page 4.
Because of the approval of the compromises involving Gorski, the USA filed this
motion – at the suggestion of the Bankruptcy Court – to withdraw the reference, asserting
that there remains no bankruptcy purpose to this interpleader adversary proceeding. See
2611 Docket No. 1. The bankruptcy estate trustee and the County have filed nonoppositions to the motion. Id. at Docket Nos. 4, 12. The only challenge to the motion
consists of a response from Karalash and Hunter, who argue that the motion is premature
because of their filing an appeal, and that the Court should stay its decision on the motion
pending their appeal of the order approving the compromise between Gorski, Eley and
the County. Id. at Docket No. 7. In its Reply, the USA observes that after Karalash and
Hunter had filed their Notice of Appeal, they also filed a Motion to Stay Pending Appeal
with the Bankruptcy Court, which was denied. Id., Docket No. 11 at 2; see also Gorski
Docket Nos. 132, 150. Furthermore, the USA argues that:
This appeal does not pertain to the subject of the United States’ Motion.
The United States’ Motion addresses the portion of interpleader funds that
was abandoned by the bankruptcy estate pursuant to a settlement with the
IRS. See Dkt. Nos. 96-101, 117 in Case No. 13-33139 (Bank. E.D. CA).
The outcome of this dispute is neutral to the bankruptcy estate. Because
the appeal does not concern the competing claims that are at issue in this
Motion, and because there is no bankruptcy purpose, the argument raised
in Mr. Karalash’s and Mr. Hunter’s Opposition is without merit, and the
United States requests that District Court withdraw the reference to the
Bankruptcy Court with respect to the adversary proceeding.
2611 Docket No. 11 at 2-3.
It would appear that, indeed, there is no continuing connection between this
adversary proceeding and Gorski (and his bankruptcy case/estate) that either Karalash or
Hunter would have a basis to litigate and, thus, “the efficient use of judicial resources”
would suggest sufficient “cause” for the reference to be withdrawn. It is not clear how
Karalash and Hunter’s appeal raises a basis for this Court not to decide the issue of the
withdrawal of the reference. Presumably, Karalash and Hunter will address this matter at
Additionally, however, there seems to be further matters related to the withdrawal
that neither side has addressed. If the Court ultimately grants the motion to withdraw the
reference, it is unclear what the basis would be for the action remaining in federal court.
Also, it appears that there may be a live cross-claim brought by Karalash against the IRS.
See Eastern District Docket No. 6-1, Valdman Decl., Exh. 1, at 29:21-30:19. The Court
would inquire as to those items at the hearing.
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