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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:George Bickham filed a personal injury suit against Vanessa Pettle in Louisiana state court. Before the trial started, Pettle filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Bickham was listed as an unsecured creditor owed an uncertain amount for “auto accident damages.” Because of the bankruptcy petition, the personal injury suit was stayed. Bickham filed a complaint asserting that the judgment against him was not dischargeable; he also asked for relief from the stay long enough so that the amount Pettle owed him could be established. The bankruptcy court granted both motions and entered an order discharging all of Pettle’s debts except those owning to Bickham. The bankruptcy then granted Bickham’s motion to dismiss the adversarial proceeding with prejudice. After informing Bickham that his suit in state court violated the discharge injunction provision of the Bankruptcy Code, Pettle moved to reopen the bankruptcy proceeding and to enjoin Bickham from pursuing his state-court action. The bankruptcy court granted the motion and the trial was stayed. A year later, Bickham filed a motion for relief from an order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). The bankruptcy court denied the motion, because Bickham did now show that Bickham’s voluntary dismissal of the adversarial proceeding was made through mistake or excusable neglect such as is required under Rule 60(b). The district court reversed, finding that Bickham had acted in good faith, that the case he originally presented had not been decided on the merits, and that his delay in filing his motion for relief had not been the product of excusable neglect. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded to the bankruptcy court. Bickham’s negligence did not just involve a missed filing deadline. Instead, his situation results from his voluntary motion to dismiss with prejudice his own adversarial action. Nothing in the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Pioneer Investment Svcs. Co. v. Brunswick Association Ltd. Partnership, 507 U.S. 380 (1993), changes the well-established rule that inadvertent mistake, gross carelessness, ignorance of the rules, or ignorance of the law are not sufficient bases for relief under Rule 60(b)(1). Bickham made a specific choice to voluntarily dismiss his case with prejudice without fully understanding the consequences of his decision. The court finds it particularly significant that by the time Bickham filed his Rule 60(b) motion, the deadline for appealing the order dismissing his adversary complain and long since passed. The bankruptcy court did not, therefore, abuse its discretion. OPINION:Emilio M. Garza, J.; Garwood, Garza and Benavides, JJ.

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