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

The creditor filed a Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice.  At the hearing, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of the case.  The only issue addressed at the hearing was whether the case would be dismissed with prejudice.  The Court found that the Debtors continually failed to comply with the Court’s orders on Bankruptcy Rule 2004 examinations.  The Court found the Debtors’ conduct warranted a 36-month bar from filing a bankruptcy case for the husband-debtor and a 12-month bar for the wife-debtor.

The issue addressed in this opinion is whether the Plaintiff, Wells Fargo, has standing to bring an action to deny the dischargeability of a debt under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) premised on actual fraud by the Debtor-Defendant in transactions with Wachovia, the predecessor bank in the merger between it and Wells Fargo.  Wells Fargo has standing to bring such an action because Wells Fargo acquired the right to prosecute such a claim by virtue of its merger with Wachovia.

Motion to avoid judicial lien granted on grounds of exemption impairment.  The issue before the Court was whether § 522(f) allows a debtor to avoid a postpetition judicial lien obtained prior to conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 for a deficiency on a postpetition, preconversion debt.  Pursuant to § 348(d), a judicial lien must be treated for the purpose of § 522(f) as if it arose prepetition.  Because the Creditor’s judicial lien impaired the Debtor’s claim of exemptions, the lien is avoided.In

Creditor’s motion for relief from the automatic stay was denied.  Debtor’s right to redeem the vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 44-14-403(b)(1) was property of the bankruptcy estate, and it did not expire at the end of the sixty days provided by 11 U.S.C. § 108(b).  Debtor also was in possession of the vehicle at the time of the petition.  Debtor’s confirmed plan provided for Creditor’s secured claim.  Creditor failed to object to Debtor’s Chapter 13 plan prior to confirmation.  The doctrine of res judicata barred Creditor from objecting to the plan postconfirmation.

Creditor’s motion for relief from the automatic stay was denied.  Debtor’s right to redeem the vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 44-14-403(b)(1) was property of the bankruptcy estate, and it did not expire at the end of the sixty days provided by 11 U.S.C. § 108(b).  Debtor also was in possession of the vehicle at the time of the petition.  Debtor’s confirmed plan provided for Creditor’s secured claim.  Creditor failed to object to Debtor’s Chapter 13 plan prior to confirmation.  The doctrine of res judicata barred Creditor from objecting to the plan postconfirmation.

Judge Austin E. Carter

USDA Farm Service Agency filed motion for retroactive stay relief to allow offset of liability of Debtor against income tax refund due to Debtor.  Court rejected USDA’s argument that the setoff was exempt under 11 U.S.C. § 362(b)(26) because that section applies only to liability of debtors for unpaid income taxes, and not to other types of liabilities to government creditors (like USDA).   Court also rejected Debtor’s argument that the entry of discharge extinguished the USDA’s right to setoff.

U.S. Trustee’s motion to dismiss granted on grounds that Debtor improperly “double-dipped” on means test form by attempting to include a pre-petition secured tax obligation both as a tax expense and a secured debt.

Secured creditor objected to the confirmation of a Chapter 13 plan, contending that the plan violated § 1325(a)(5)(B)(iii)(I) by providing for monthly payments followed by a balloon payment. The Court held that a Chapter 13 plan that provides for a balloon payment is confirmable over objection because the plain language of and the Congressional intent behind § 1325(a)(5)(B)(iii)(I) does not prohibit balloon payments. Further, the Court held that the proposed plan, including the balloon payment, was feasible as required by § 1325(a)(6).

Defendants' motions seeking to compel arbitration of Plaintiff/Debtor's stay violation claim denied because compelling arbitration of stay violation conflicts with Congress’s purpose in enacting the Bankruptcy Code.

 

Chapter 7 Trustee sought avoidance under §§ 547 and 548 of alleged transfer of interest of Debtor in property.  Defendant recorded quitclaim deed transferring to Debtor one-half interest in property.  Transfer alleged by Trustee consisted of Debtor’s later (prepetition) execution and recordation of quitclaim deed as to such property in favor of Defendant.  Both deeds were apparently executed and recorded pursuant to unrecorded agreement under which Debtor was either to earn his interest in property by performing listed repairs by date certain or deed property back to Defendant (the “Agreement”).  Parties brought cross-motions for summary judgment, which the Court disposed of as follows: (1) cross-motions as to threshold issue of “transfer of an interest of the debtor in property” denied because genuine issue of fact existed as to whether equitable interests remained in Defendant (such as in constructive trust) and transfer was of bare legal title; (2) cross-motions as to Defendant’s assertion of Debtor’s exemption under § 522(g) denied because Defendant had no standing to raise Debtor’s exemptions; (3) cross-motions as to Defendant’s ordinary course defense under § 547(c)(2) denied because Agreement (though apparently constituting first-time debt) could potentially be shown as ordinary from record and second quitclaim was plausibly executed in accordance with Agreement’s terms; (4) Plaintiff’s motion as to Defendant’s new value defense under § 547(c)(4) granted (and Defendant’s motion denied) because Defendant did not show new value, and new value (if any) was not extended after alleged transfer.

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