Frivolous Appeal Ends in Ninth Circuit Sanctions

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Baseless misconduct accusations that a ski resort officer and his attorney hurled against a bankruptcy judge merit sanctions, the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday.
     Timonthy Blixseth opened the Yellostone Mountain Club near Big Sky, Mt., in 1997, reportedly with help from celebrity skiers Hank Kashiwa and Warren Miller.
     The 2,200-acred club was “a haven for the wealthy,” but it fell into bankruptcy after Blixseth spent a $342 million loan mostly on himself in 2005, according to court records.
     After finding that Blixseth misappropriated the money for his own use, a bankruptcy court entered a $40 million judgment against him.
     Blixseth in turn hurled 19 misconduct accusations against the judge, but the Ninth Circuit affirmed last year that Blixseth’s claims were “a transparent attempt to wriggle out of an unfavorable decision by smearing the reputation of the judge who made it.”
     The federal appeals court followed up that decision with a request for Blixseth and his attorneys to show cause why they should not be sanctioned by the court for filing a “frivolous and bad-faith appeal.”
     A three-judge panel ripped through their excuses Tuesday in an eight-page decision ordering sanctions.
     “Blixseth and attorney Michael Flynn fail, once again, to back up their accusations with even a shred of credible evidence,” the unsigned order states.
     Though Flynn accused the bankruptcy judge of concealing his involvement in settlement negotiations, Flynn offered no evidence that the judge concealed anything, according to the ruling.
     Flynn also submitted two emails that he characterized as having been obtained from Blixseth’s ex-wife’s account, but he failed to disclose that the ex-wife and her counsel filed affidavits and documents showing the evidence was forged.
     “Flynn’s conduct has been unprofessional throughout the proceedings,” the ruling states.
     Blixseth’s other attorneys – Patrick Fox, Christopher Conant, Michael Ferringo and Philip Stillman – were also involved with the appeal and ordered to show cause why they should not be sanctioned.
     All four attorneys have since tried to distance themselves from Blixseth and Flynn, the Ninth Circuit found.
     Fox and Conant withdrew from representing Blixseth, and Stillman claims to have “almost no involvement” in the appeal, according to the court.
     The panel opted to spare the others even though it said all four attorneys could face sanctions because of their connection to the appeal.
     “We believe that their response to the order to show cause and our comments today will serve as a sufficient warning to them to act more responsibly in the future,” the ruling states.
     Blixseth and Flynn must cover attorneys’ fees for their opponents and pay a $500 fine each for filing the “frivolous and bad-faith appeal,” the court found.

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