A Business And Real Estate Litigation Firm Serving California

Patrick R. Tira

Contact Me:

Practice Areas:

  • Business and Real Property Disputes
  • Business Counseling
  • Consumer Finance Litigation
  • Trusts and Estates Litigation
  • Litigation & Appeals


Patrick Tira is a highly skilled attorney with a demonstrated history of resolving business and real property disputes. He also has extensive experience in creditor/debtor's rights, trade secret protection, shareholder disputes, and real estate finance.

Over the past ten years, Mr. Tira gained extensive experience first at a boutique law firm located in La Jolla, California and later as a partner with a national law firm largely based in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Tira is experienced in all stages of litigation, including motion practice, depositions and other discovery, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, trial, and appeal. Mr. Tira has recovered millions for his clients in judgments and arbitration awards, in addition to resolving most disputes with demurrers and motions to dismiss.

In addition to his success in the courtroom, Mr. Tira takes pride in assisting businesses and individuals to quickly resolve disputes and avoid litigation through effective sales contracts, purchase agreements, non-disclosure agreements, software license and development agreements, powers of attorney, shareholder agreements, promissory notes and security agreements, easement agreements, and employment contracts.

Mr. Tira is admitted to practice law in California, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and in the United States District Courts for the Southern, Central, Eastern, and Northern Districts of California.



  • University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California
    • J.D. - 2007
  • University of San Diego
    • B.A., Political Science
    • Honors: summa cum laude
    • Honors: B.B.A., Real Estate Emphasis
    • Honors: The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California

Professional Associations

  • Irish American Bar Association of San Diego, Board of Directors
  • La Jolla Bar Association
  • The Federalist Society
  • Association Of Business Trial Lawyers


  • SuperLawyers - 2022
  • SuperLawyers - Rising Stars - 2022

9th Cir. Applies Calif’s Post-2021 Increased Homestead Exemption Amount in Determining Whether a Debtor May Avoid a Pre-2021 Lien

by | Dec 2, 2022 | Litigation

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed a bankruptcy court’s application of California’s increased homestead exemption amount in determining whether a debtor may avoid a lien created in 2013.  In so ruling, the Ninth Circuit held that bankruptcy courts must apply the state exemption law in effect on the filing date of the bankruptcy petition, rather than on the creation date of the lien.

In 2013, a creditor recorded a $256,075.95 judgment lien against the debtor’s home.  At the time, California’s homestead exemption was $75,000 for a single debtor, $100,000 for a married debtor, and $175,000 for certain classes of other debtors.  In 2020, California increased its homestead exemption (effective January 1, 2021) to the greater of (1) the “median sale price for a single-family home” in the debtor’s county the year before the debtor claims the exemption, “not to exceed” $600,000; or (2) $300,000.  (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 704.730, subd. (a).)  In 2021, the debtor filed for bankruptcy.

As you may recall, the Bankruptcy Code allows debtors to exclude certain property from their bankruptcy estates using various exemptions.  States may opt out of the bankruptcy code’s default list of exemptions and create their own list of exemptions.

The Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to avoid a lien “to the extent that such lien impairs an exemption to which the debtor would have been entitled.”  (11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(1).)  Section 522(f) of the Bankruptcy Code sets forth a test for determining when a lien impairs an exemption: a lien may be avoided when “the sum of (i) the lien; (ii) all other liens on the property; and (iii) the amount of the exemption that the debtor could claim if there were no liens on the property” is greater than “the value that the debtor’s interest in the property would have in the absence of any liens.”  (11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(2)(A).)

The trustee argued that the debtor’s homestead exemption should be limited to what was available in 2013 – when the creditor recorded its lien.  The trustee pointed out that California law expressly limited its homestead exemption to “the exemption statutes in effect … at the time the judgment creditor’s lien on the property was created.”  (Cal Code Civ. Proc., § 703.050, subd (a).)

The Ninth Circuit disagreed and found that the Supreme Court’s decision in Owen v. Owen controlled the issue.  (Owen v. Owen (1991) 500 U.S. 305, 308.)  There, the Supreme Court explained that Section 522(f) requires courts to determine the exemption to which the debtor would have been entitled but for the existence of the judicial lien at issue.

The Ninth Circuit reasoned that Owen requires bankruptcy courts to look to the amount of the applicable homestead exemption the debtor could have claimed, if the creditor’s lien was disregarded.  As a result, the creditor’s recordation of its judgment lien before California increased the amount of its homeowner’s exemption was irrelevant to the bankruptcy court’s calculation under Section 522(f)(2)(A).

This article is intended to be for informational purposes only and is not intended to be treated as legal advice.  You should not rely on or act on any information from this Website without consulting with a competent attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.  Neither this Website nor use of the information from the Website creates an attorney-client relationship.  This Website may contain links to other internet sites.  These links are provided to assist you in searching for other resources or information that may be of interest to you and are not endorsements of any products or services.  The owner of this site assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content contained on this site.