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.

Judge John T. Laney, III

This case came before the Court on the Debtor’s motion to reconsider the entry of various orders pursuant to FRBP 9024. The Court discussed the requisite showings a movant must demonstrate to support a request for relief. Particularly, the Court explained that a movant must show it has a meritorious defense when seeking relief from default. To carry this burden over an objection, the movant cannot merely offer putative defenses or general denials; the movant must show evidence that he could substantiate the defenses. The Debtor in this case did not put on any evidence. Accordingly, the Court denied his motion.

In these cases, the Chapter 7 Trustee sought to avoid pre-petition payments made to insiders pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 3304(a)(2).  After an extensive trial, the Court ruled in favor of the Defendants.  Although the Court found the Debtor was insolvent at the time it made the payments, the Court did not find the Trustee met his burden to show the insiders had reasonable cause to believe the Debtor was insolvent.  The opinion discusses the legal standards and the evidence presented by the parties.

In these cases, the Chapter 7 Trustee sought to avoid pre-petition payments made to insiders pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 3304(a)(2).  After an extensive trial, the Court ruled in favor of the Defendants.  Although the Court found the Debtor was insolvent at the time it made the payments, the Court did not find the Trustee met his burden to show the insiders had reasonable cause to believe the Debtor was insolvent.  The opinion discusses the legal standards and the evidence presented by the parties.

The issue before the Court was whether a creditor violated the automatic stay by applying non-bankruptcy estate funds, which the Debtor gave voluntarily to the creditor after filing, to a pre-petition dischargeable claim.  The Debtor further argued that, even if the creditors application of those funds to its claim was not a violation of the automatic stay, refusing to remit the funds to the Debtor after his request was a violation.  The Court rejected these arguments.  It held nothing in 11 U.S.C. § 362 prevents a creditor from retaining and applying a voluntary post-petition payment from non-bankruptcy estate funds.  Further, the Court rejected the Debtor’s argument that, in accepting the payment, the creditor was required to give the disclosures enumerated in 11 U.S.C.  § 524(k).In re

The Movant sought relief from the automatic stay.  The issue before the Court was whether the agreement between the Debtor and the Movant was a lease or a security interest.  The Movant argued Tennessee law governed the agreement by the operation of a choice-of-law provision in the contract.  Tennessee law explicitly provides that a rental-purchase agreement is not a security interest.  The Court agreed, finding the choice-of-law provision was enforceable.

The parties sought summary judgment on an action for declaratory judgment that concerned the extension of an open-end clause in a real estate financing agreement. The issue before the Court was whether a non-borrowing grantor’s security interest also secured the borrower’s later incurred debt, even without the non-borrowing grantor’s consent. The Court found the documents memorializing the security agreement did not require consent to extend the security interest. Further, the Court found such a provision did not contravene Georgia law. Accordingly, the Court granted summary judgment for the Plaintiff.

Chief Judge James P. Smith

The debtor sought to set aside the alleged wrongful foreclosure on her residence.  The foreclosure sale occurred prepetition but the foreclosure deed was filed for record postpetition.  Although the creditor sent via certified mail notice of the pending foreclosure, the U.S. Postal Service never delivered the notice to the debtor.  The Court held that the creditor had complied with applicable state law, O.C.G.A. § 44-14-162.2, even though the notice was not actually received by the debtor.  The Court also denied the debtor’s claims that the foreclosure sale was an avoidable preferential transfer, a fraudulent transfer or that filing the foreclosure deed postpetition was a violation of the automatic stay.  11 U.S.C. §§ 547, 548, 549, 362.

The Chapter 13 debtor filed a motion for turn over of her car and for damages for violation of the automatic stay.  11 U.S.C. §§ 362, 542(a).  The car had been repossessed prepetition by a recovery company pursuant to its contract with the secured creditor.  Debtor sought to hold the secured creditor liable for the recovery company’s postpetition demand that the debtor sign a release of liability before returning the car.  The court held that the recovery company was an independent contractor and not an agent of the creditor and that the creditor was not liable for the acts of the recovery company.

The debtors signed a deed to secure debt which secured a debt that was due and payable no later than August 29, 2008. The debt was not satisfied and the debtors filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in August 2017. The Bankruptcy Court held that, pursuant to Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 44-14-80(a), title to the real property reverted to the debtors seven years after the maturity date of the debt. The court rejected the grantee’s assertion that the deed contained an affirmation statement that the parties intended to establish a perpetual or indefinite security interest.

Judge Austin E. Carter

Debtor objects to the priority claim filed by his ex-wife, arguing that the obligation underlying the claim is a property settlement obligation, which is not afforded priority status under the Bankruptcy Code, rather than a domestic support obligation.  In support of his position, Debtor asserted, primarily, that the Settlement Agreement and Divorce Decree specifically state that the obligation “shall not be considered alimony.”  The Court overrules the Debtors’ objection, ruling that the obligation was in the nature of support despite the language to the contrary in the Settlement Agreement.

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