Opinions

The Middle District of Georgia offers opinions in PDF format, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

Please note: These opinions are not a complete inventory of all judges' decisions and are not documents of record. Official court records are available at the clerk's office.

Chief Judge James P. Smith

In these consolidated adversary proceedings, the debtors are doctors of podiatric medicine and guarantors of their business’ debt which was secured by all assets of the business.  After the business had financial problems and closed, the debtors, without notice to the creditor, transferred the business’ assets to another podiatric group in exchange for employment offers to the debtors.  After the debtors filed Chapter 7 cases, the creditor argued their obligations were nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4) and (6).  

The court granted the debtors’ motion to dismiss the § 523(a)(4) objections, holding that the debtors had not acted in a fiduciary capacity or embezzled the creditor’s collateral.  The court denied the debtors’ motion as to the § 523(a)(6) objection, holding that the creditor’s complaint had stated a claim for willful and malicious injury by transfer of the collateral.In re

Judge John T. Laney, III

In this adversary proceeding, a Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff-Debtor’s claims under FRCP 12(b)(6). Plaintiff’s claims, in order, were 1) Wrongful Foreclosure, 2) Fraud, and 3) Violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The Court found that Plaintiff was able to allege sufficient facts to potentially state a claim for Claim I but not for Claims II or III. As a result, the Court granted Defendant’s Motion with respect to Claims II and III but denied Defendant’s Motion with respect to Claim I.

This case concerns a Trustee’s action under 11 U.S.C. §544(a)(3) to avoid a transfer of real property and subsequent cross Motions for Summary Judgment. The initial complaint alleged that the Trustee was able to avoid the transfer because the Deed to Secure Debt for the property in question was improperly attested to and thus, incapable of providing constructive notice to bona fide purchasers. The Court held that the Deed to Secure Debt did provide constructive notice and granted Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

This case concerns a student loan discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8). Based on allegations in the initial complaint Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the debt was incurred post-petition and is therefore non-dischargeable. Before the Court heard Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss, the Court granted the Debtor leave to amend the complaint. The Court held that the amendments cured the deficiencies that the Defendants contended were grounds for dismissal.

This case concerned whether the one-year extension of the § 546(a) statute of limitations begins to run from the appointment of the interim trustee or upon concluding the § 341 meeting of creditors.  The court concluded that the appointment runs from concluding § 341 meeting when creditors decline or otherwise fail to elect a trustee.  This result, the court reasoned, is mandated by § 546(a)’s reference to appointment under § 702.  That section appoints the interim trustee as the “permanent” case trustee. Additionally, the court rejected the argument § 702 merely recognizes the interim trustee’s continued appointment if no trustee is elected, as § 701(b) explicitly terminates the appointment of the interim trustee upon concluding the § 341 meeting.

This case concerns whether the Chapter 13 debtors could cram down a claim secured by a purchase money security interest (PMSI) in a motor vehicle purchased for non-personal use within one year of the petition date. The undesignated paragraph following 11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(9), often referred to as “the hanging paragraph,” prohibits debtors from cramming down claims secured by a PMSI if purchased within particular time periods. A 910-day limitation applies to claims secured by “a motor vehicle (as defined in section 30102 of title 49) acquired for the personal use of the debtor.” A one-year limitation applies to claims secured by “any other thing of value.” The Court concluded that the first provision applies narrowly to motor vehicles acquired for the debtors’ personal use.  All other collateral, including motor vehicles not acquired for the debtors’ personal use, are subject to the one-year limitation provided in the second provision.

This opinion arises from an adversary proceeding seeking to revoke the confirmation order in a Chapter 13 case pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1330. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff could not overcome his defenses as a matter of law. First, the defendant asserted res judicata and collateral estoppel defenses, as the plaintiff did not raise his allegations of fraud prior to confirmation.  The court held that § 1330 did not require that a party seeking revocation discover the fraud after the court’s entry of the confirmation order.

Secondly, the defendant argued that, because the claimant did not hold an allowed claim, he was not a party in interest and accordingly, lacked standing to assert the action. The court, however, determined that a party does not need to hold an allowed claim to seek revocation of a confirmation order and dismissal of Chapter 13 case.

The defendant also claimed that the plaintiff should be judicially estopped from making certain allegations because he had made prior inconsistent statements in a prior proceeding.  The court noted that the plaintiff had offered sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to determine that the statements were not made to make a mockery of the judicial system.

Lastly, the defendant claimed that the complaint failed to state a claim for relief because it was based on the plaintiff’s belief that the defendant made fraudulent statements. Although the court determined that the plaintiff must meet the heightened pleading standard under Rule 9, the court found sufficient allegations in the complaint to support that burden.

Therefore, the court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Judge Austin E. Carter

In this adversary proceeding, creditor seeks determination of dischargeability of debt arising from medical malpractice action where the injury resulted from an improper prescription issued by a nurse practitioner working under delegated authority of the debtor-physician.  The Court granted in part and denied in part the debtor’s motion for summary judgment.  Granting summary judgment in favor of the Debtor as to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6) claim because the statute requires that the injury be caused by the acts of the debtor herself rather than her agent, and because debtor’s actions amounted to not more than negligence.  Denying summary judgment as to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) claim because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the nurse practitioner was the debtor’s agent and, if so, whether the nurse practitioner’s conduct constituted fraud.

The Court held that lender’s title to real property under recorded security deed reverted to debtor seven years after maturity date reflected in the security deed, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-14-80.  The Court held that a loan modification agreement that extended the maturity date did not prevent reversion because that agreement was not recorded.  The Court rejected lender’s argument that debtor’s waiver of statutes of limitation in the loan documents precluded the reversion.

In this Chapter 13 case, an oversecured creditor attempted to amend its proof of claim several years after plan confirmation to add interest accrued from the date the petition was filed until the plan confirmation.  The creditor argued that under 11 U.S.C. § 506(b) such interest accrues inherently as part of its claim. Further, the creditor asserted that the Debtor’s motion to modify its plan canceled the res judicata effect of the plan confirmation. The court disagreed, holding that because the creditor failed to provide any notice of its intent to collect this interest prior to plan confirmation, the order confirming the Debtor’s Chapter 13 plan is res judicata and precludes the creditor from enlarging its claim post-confirmation.

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