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 Wendy L. Hagenau, Chief Judge

Order after trial on the dischargeability of debt from default judgment under 11 U.S.C. §§ 523(a)(4) and (a)(6).  Irreconcilable testimony regarding missing firearms prevented the Plaintiff from carrying his burden of proof as to the dischargeability of the judgment debt except as to one weapon—a Singer M1911 45-caliber pistol.  The Court found that § 523(a)(4) was satisfied with respect to the Singer because the Plaintiff demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that (1) the Debtor obtained the Singer rightfully, (2) the Debtor appropriated the Singer for his personal use, and (3) the appropriation occurred with fraudulent intent.  The Court also found that the Plaintiff carried his burden as to § 523(a)(6), finding that the sale of the Singer and subsequent injury to the Plaintiff was intentional, malicious, and wrongful, as the Debtor had no basis upon which to dispose of the Singer.

Order denying Debtor’s motion to determine secured status of Secured Creditor’s lien and strip such lien effective on discharge. Debtor asserted that Secured Creditor’s lien should be reclassified as unsecured because a loan modification was not properly attested or acknowledged. However, the Court concluded that, on the facts before the Court, the loan modification was enforceable and did not affect the validity or priority of the Secured Creditor’s lien.

Order denying Petitioning Creditor’s request for additional attorney’s fees. Following a series of orders resolving various objections to Petitioning Creditor’s claims, a single issue remained: whether Petitioning Creditor was entitled to additional attorney’s fees under an earlier consent judgment. The Court, applying applicable North Carolina state law, concluded that Petitioning Creditor was not entitled to attorney’s fees because the earlier consent judgment lacked an express provision requiring payment of costs of post-judgment enforcement.

Order dismissing adversary complaint with prejudice for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. Plaintiff initiated an adversary proceeding seeking injunctive relief and a remedy for alleged breach of contract. Plaintiff alleged Secured Creditor had no standing to initiate foreclosure proceedings and that Secured Creditor’s failure to respond to a letter constituted a violation of the FDCPA and TILA. Secured Creditor filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court concluded that Plaintiff’s complaint contained only conclusory allegations and that Plaintiff failed to allege any facts that would allow the Court to conclude he was entitled to relief.

Order dismissing adversary complaint with prejudice for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. Plaintiff initiated an adversary proceeding seeking injunctive relief and a remedy for alleged breach of contract. Plaintiff alleged Secured Creditor had no standing to initiate foreclosure proceedings and that Secured Creditor’s failure to respond to a letter constituted a violation of the FDCPA and TILA. Secured Creditor filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court concluded that Plaintiff’s complaint contained only conclusory allegations and that Plaintiff failed to allege any facts that would allow the Court to conclude he was entitled to relief.

Order dismissing adversary complaint with prejudice for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. Plaintiff sought punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and other expenses for an alleged violation of the automatic stay by Secured Creditor. The Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the property in question was not property of the estate at the time the alleged violation occurred and because Plaintiff failed to allege that Secured Creditor had knowledge of the bankruptcy as the time the alleged violation occurred.

Honorable Barbara Ellis-Monro

Chapter 11 debtor’s confirmed plan provided to pay debts arising under a divorce decree to his ex-wife in a reduced amount in full satisfaction of the claim. The ex-wife agreed to the treatment. When debtor defaulted under the plan, his ex-wife sought to recover the debt in full in state court. The debtor then cured the default under the plan and filed a complaint to enjoin his ex-wife from seeking recovery of her debt in excess of the amount provided for in the plan. The Court held that the ex-wife was bound by the terms of the plan and could not pursue her debt outside the plan during the pendency of the plan. The Court further held that confirmation of the plan did not, by itself, affect the amount of the debtor’s liability under the divorce decree. Upon completion of the plan, the ex-wife could pursue any unpaid non-dischargeable debt in state court, where the debtor was free to raise defenses including settlement and satisfaction of the debt.

Honorable W. H. Drake Jr.

The plaintiffs' son had died as a result of a four-wheeler (ATV) accident involving the debtor's son.  The Superior Court of Troup County, Georgia, concluded that the debtor had been negligent in failing to supervise her son's operation of the ATV and granted the plaintiffs a judgment for $1,010,127.12.  After the debtor filed her bankruptcy case, the plaintiffs brought an adversary proceeding seeking to except their judgment from discharge pursuant to section 523(a)(6).  The plaintiffs claimed that the death of their son was a willful and malicious injury.
On the debtor's motion for summary judgment, the Court concluded that the judgment debt was not one for willful and malicious injury.  The Court concluded that even if the debtor had received warnings about the danger of allowing a child to operate the ATV and knew that other children were riding the ATV, that did not make her substantially certain that the injury to the plaintiffs' son would occur if she allowed her son to operate the ATV.  Consequently, the debt owed to the plaintiffs did not fall within the narrow exception to discharge allowed under section 523(a)(6).

Denying Debtor's motion to dismiss Chapter 7 Trustee's complaint to avoid and recover a fraudulent transfer allegedly made by the Debtor to his father, the Defendant.  The Trustee's complaint stated a claim.  Further, the fact that no proofs of claim had been filed in the case did not provide a basis for dismissing the complaint and closing the bankruptcy case.

Honorable James R. Sacca

The Court granted the trustee’s objection to confirmation and held that the chapter 13 debtors were ineligible to be chapter 13 debtors in a joint case because their aggregate unsecured debts exceeded the limit set forth in § 109(e). Although each debtor’s separate unsecured debts did not exceed the debt limit and each debtor was individually eligible to be a chapter 13 debtor because their aggregate unsecured debts exceeded the limit they were ineligible to be joint debtors. Relying on the plain meaning of the statute, and particularly the placing of the word “aggregate” in connection with the unsecured debt limit, the Court concluded that in chapter 13 cases a debtor who files an individual case and debtors who file a joint case are subject to the same unsecured debt limits under § 109(e).
INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION

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