Opinions

Effective January 1, 2017, Orders in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia designated by the Court as "opinions" will be transmitted to the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and made available to the public at no cost.  To view these opinions, click HERE to be transferred to GPO site.

Orders designated as Opinions and issued between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2016 are maintained on this website. Many of these Opinions are not intended for publication and are so designated. Each entry includes the style of the matter, the case number, the date entered on the docket, and a short parenthetical expression of the issue(s) raised. The most recent opinions appear first.

You can narrow your search by judge and/or year below.  You can also use the search feature above to search by name, word, or phrase. The single opinions are in PDF text format and may be searched for word, phrase, or date by using “Control F,” the Windows search function available in any Windows application.

Honorable Barbara Ellis-Monro

Plaintiff filed an adversary proceeding asserting that Defendants violated the automatic stay when they initiated a contempt action in state court after filing Proofs of Claim in the bankruptcy case. The parties stipulated to dismissal of Plaintiff’s former spouse leaving her attorney as the sole Defendant. The Court determined that filing the contempt action was not within the exception of § 362(b)(2)(B) because the action began the process of collecting prepetition claims and was not limited to collection against property that is not property of the bankruptcy estate. The Court concluded that despite Defendant’s attempts to stay the contempt action, filing the action was ‘willful.’ The Court awarded Plaintiff actual compensatory damages for having to defend the state court proceeding and for having to bring the adversary proceeding, but declined to award punitive damages.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Plaintiff filed a complaint to determine dischargeability of a debt based on fraud in a fiduciary capacity or embezzlement. Plaintiff relied on the collateral estoppel effect of a state court judgment. However, Plaintiff failed to attach a copy of the state court judgment to its complaint. Without a copy of the state court judgment, the Court could not conclude default judgment was justified under principals of collateral estoppel. Furthermore, the allegations in the complaint, standing alone, did not justify default judgment because they were not sufficient to show Plaintiff was entitled to the relief requested.
NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION

Honorable Wendy L. Hagenau, Chief Judge

Order on Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Defendant sought summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims for turnover of a debt under 11 U.S.C. § 542, open account and unjust enrichment. The Court held that summary judgment on the turnover claim was appropriate because the parties disputed the existence of the debt and the agreements that allegedly created the debt did not generate any obligation between Defendant and the Debtor. The Court further held that summary judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff’s open account claim because Defendant did not owe Debtor a debt at the time the bankruptcy petition was filed. Finally, the Court held that an unjust enrichment claim can be stated as an alternative to a contract claim and that the facts material to Plaintiff’s claim of unjust enrichment were still in dispute. Summary judgment was therefore not appropriate for Defendant on the unjust enrichment claim.

Honorable W. H. Drake Jr.

Trial on Plaintiff's complaint contesting dischargeability of debt and objecting to Defendant's discharge.  The Court concluded that the Defendant's violation of a non-compete agreement caused a willful and malicious injury to the Plaintiff under 523(a)(6).  Additionally, the Court concluded that the Defendant's failure to disclose information on his schedules and the transfer of money to his wife pre-petition constituted violations of section 727.

The Court sustained the Chapter 7 Trustee's Objection to Debtor's Claim of Exemption.  The Debtor had claimed an exemption of $10,000 in a personal injury claim, but did not indicate the specific subsection of O.C.G.A. Section 44-13-100 upon which he relied.  As the Debtor did not provide any proof that the $10,000 did not include pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss (as is required by the statute covering the exemption of personal injury claims) the Debtor had to rely on his wildcard exemption.  As the Debtor had other property claimed as exempt that could only be claimed under the wildcard, the Court reduced his exemption accordingly to $6,330.

The Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Join.  The Court concluded that there was sufficient justification under Rule 20 to join the requested defendant to the action.

The Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Join.  The Court concluded that there was sufficient justification under Rule 20 to join the requested defendant to the action

The Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Join.  The Court concluded that there was sufficient justification under Rule 20 to join the requested defendant to the action.

The Court granted the Debtor's Motion to Stay License Suspension.  The Debtor's driver's license was suspended pursuant to Arizona state law for failure to pay a judgment to State Farm Insurance.  The Court concluded that because the suspension of the Debtor's license was a coercive measure to compel him to pay the judgment, its continued enforcement after the commencement of his bankruptcy case violated the automatic stay.  However, to have his license reinstated, the Debtor would be required to pay all reinstatement fees and furnish proof of future financial responsibility, as necessary.

The Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Join.  The Court concluded that there was sufficient justification under Rule 20 to join the requested defendant to the action.

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