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 matter came before the Court on Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.  The motion sought dismissal of the Trustee’s complaint, whereby the Trustee brought various preference and fraudulent transfer claims. Defendants argued that dismissal was appropriate because the Trustee failed to adequately plead the factual allegations required to make out each of the claims listed in the complaint. According to Defendants, after stripping away the bare legal conclusions, the remaining allegations were insufficient to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.  The Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. The court granted the motion as to the Trustee’s 11 U.S.C. § 548 claims, finding that the transfer at issue occurred outside the statutory reach back period. Similarly, the Court granted the motion as to Trustee’s 11 U.S.C. § 544 and O.C.G.A. § 18-2-70 et seq., again finding the transfers at issue occurred outside the applicable reach back period. The Court denied the motion as the Trustee’s remaining claims.

The matter came before the Court on Motions for Summary Judgment (the “Motion”) filed by defendants McCalla Raymer, LLC (“McCalla”), SunTrust Bank and SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. (collectively “SunTrust”). The Complaint sought recovery for damages stemming from a botched 2010 foreclosure sale. After hearing oral argument on the motions the Court decided to grant the Defendants’ Motions as to: Count 3 – Judicial Estoppel; Count 4 – Equitable Subordination; Count 6 – Violation of Automatic Stay; Count 7(A)(3) – Fraud; Count 7(B) – Violation of Fair Debt Collections Practices Act; and Count 8 – Conversion. The Court denied Defendants’ Motions as to: Count 7(A)(1) – Wrongful foreclosure; Count 7(A)(2) – Tortious interference with property rights; and Count 9 – State law attorney fees under O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11.

This matter came before the Court on Debtor, FMB Bancshares, Inc.’s, Motion to Dismiss the Involuntary Chapter 7 Petition filed by Trapeza CDO XII, LTD. FMB sought to have the Involuntary Petition dismissed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 303 and 11 U.S.C. § 305. FMB argued that Tapeza was not a proper creditor under § 303 because FMB’s liability to Trapeza was “contingent,” and that Trapeza did not have standing under the contractual documents to file an involuntary bankruptcy petition. Additionally, FMB argued that the court should exercise discretionary abstention pursuant to § 305 because bankruptcy was not in the best interest of the debtor and creditors. The Court did not agree. The Court held that: (1) Trapeza had standing under the contractual documents to file the involuntary petition; (2) Trapeza was a proper creditor under § 303 because it is the holder of a claim that is not contingent as to liability or the subject of a bona fide dispute as to liability or amount; and (3) Abstention under § 305 was not proper. Accordingly, the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss.

Judge Austin E. Carter

Claim otherwise barred under Georgia statute of limitation not revived by O.C.G.A. § 9-3-112 because plan payments by trustee were not on behalf of Debtor as required by O.C.G.A. § 9-3-112 and Debtor's scheduling creditor's claim as undisputed and proposing plan that provides for full payment of all allowed unsecured claims not “unqualified admission” of liability required under Georgia law; in alternative, even if Debtor otherwise revived debt pursuant to Georgia law, revival constituted post-petition waiver by Debtor of estate's defense of statute of limitation, nullified by 11 U.S.C. § 558.

Debtor's motion for turnover of car repossessed prepetition after debtor’s default under Georgia title pawn transaction denied because debtor's admitted inability to redeem car prior to expiration of right of redemption under state law (as extended by 11 U.S.C. § 108(b)), requires postpetition extinction of debtor's rights in property under Georgia pawnshop law, and 11 U.S.C. § 1322 does not entitle debtor to retain possession of collateral no longer in estate and treat creditor’s claim as secured under plan.I

Wages garnished from Debtor held in custody of garnishment court at time of Debtor's filing case were property of estate because, where no judgment against garnishee has been entered, Georgia garnishment law cannot be read to extinguish garnishment defendant's ownership interests prior to distribution of such wages from garnishment court.

Repossession of vehicle purchased by Chapter 13 debtor after confirmation of her plan violated automatic stay because property obtained by debtor after confirmation of plan, but before the case is closed, dismissed, or converted, is property of the estate pursuant to Waldron v. Brown (In re Waldron), 536 F.3d 1239 (11th Cir. 2008).

Chief Judge James P. Smith

The debtor retained the plaintiff law firm to represent him and his company in state court litigation.  After the debtor ran up a sizeable amount of legal fees, the plaintiff advised that it would withdraw its representation and begin collection activity.  The debtor promised to pay the fees when he received his income tax refund.  After receiving the tax refund, the debtor did not pay it to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff sued the debtor and obtained a state court judgment of $104,000.  The bankruptcy court held that the debtor had fraudulently misrepresented the amount of his anticipated refund and that he had not yet received it.  The court held that the debtor’s debt was nondischargeable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A).

The debtor made a large estimated tax payment to the IRS and the Georgia Department of Revenue just prior to filing bankruptcy.  The Chapter 7 trustee demanded, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 542(a), that the debtor turn over the federal and state tax credits arising from the estimated tax payments.  The trustee alternatively asked for turn over of a portion of the tax returns based upon the percentage of tax payments made prepetition and postpetition.  The court held that the estimated tax credits were not subject to turn over because the only interest which the debtor had in the payments was the right to request a refund after filing her tax returns.  The court also held that tax refunds should, except in exceptional cases, be prorated based upon the number of calendar days before and after the petition date.

The court held that, if the trustee or an unsecured creditor objects to confirmation, a Chapter 13 debtor must pay interest to unsecured creditors in order to comply with § 1325(b)(1)(A) when the debtor is not paying all of his projected disposable income to unsecured creditors pursuant to § 1325(b)(1)(B).
 

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