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.

An individual who is not a licensed attorney filed on behalf of a corporation a complaint objecting to the dischargeability of debt. The Court advised that a corporation must be represented by an attorney in federal court. The corporation failed to obtain an attorney. The Court dismissed the corporation's complaint.

Debtor’s early withdrawals from his IRA, which were used to pay bills, were not the type of "prohibited transactions" that would have caused the entire account to lose its status as an IRA under the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, any money in the IRA at the time Debtor filed his bankruptcy petition could be exempted pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(2.1)(D).

Creditors filed a motion requesting that the court appoint a chapter 11 trustee. The creditors argued that the chapter 11 debtor's managing member would not scrutinize certain monetary transfers made to himself. The court denied the creditors' request, noting that the debtor planned to have an independent attorney or accountant scrutinize the transfers.

The chapter 13 debtor served as executrix of her father's estate. The debtor breached her fiduciary duty and was removed as executrix by the probate court. The debtor's brothers obtained a state court judgment and were awarded actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees.

The debtor filed for Chapter 13 relief and proposed a Chapter 13 plan that would pay a six percent dividend to her brothers.

The brothers contended that the debtor's proposed plan was not proposed in good faith and did not meet the disposable income test. The Court reviewed the debtor's income and expenses and applied the Kitchens factors in deciding whether the plan was proposed in good faith. The Court held that the debtor's proposed plan was confirmable.

Debtors who were currently unable to make ends meet, were living a frugal existence, lacked marketable skills or the ability to acquire marketable skills, and had made some efforts to negotiate with their student loan creditors would suffer undue hardship if required to repay their student loans. Consequently, they were entitled to a discharge of those loans pursuant to § 523(a)(8).

The district court determined that the debtor was liable for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act. The civil penalties arose from the discharge of oil into a navigable water and the failure to have a spill prevention plan to prevent and control oil pollution. The bankruptcy court determined that the debtor's obligation for civil penalties which may be imposed for violations of the Clean Water Act were nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C.A. § 523(a)(7).

Judge John T. Laney, III

The Court held a final pre-trial conference in an adversary proceeding to determine the dischargeability of a debt arising from a state court default judgment in favor of William Bass, Carolyn Burgess, and Haven Hills Estates ("Plaintiffs") against Wayne Barber ("Defendant"). To determine whether collateral estoppel applies, the Court must apply the law of the state in which the judgment was entered. Under Georgia law three elements must be present for collateral estoppel to apply; 1) the issue must be identical to the issue resolved in state court; 2) the issued was "actually and necessarily" litigated in the state court case; 3) the resolution of the issue was essential to the state court case. The Court determined that the Defendant’s liability, which was determined by default, was not "actually and necessarily" litigated in the state court, therefore collateral estoppel was not applicable.

Georgia Power Co. ("Defendant") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that the post-petition, pre-conversion debt owed by Stephanie M. Davis ("Plaintiff") was collectable in addition to the deposit, as set out in 11 U.S.C. § 366, as an administrative expense under 11 U.S.C. § 503(b). In ruling against Defendant’s motion, the Court held that the effect of 11 U.S.C. § 348 was that the post-petition, pre-conversion debt was to be treated as if it had arisen just prior to the filing of the petition, unless it was determined to be an administrative expense under 11 U.S.C. § 503(b), which requires notice and a hearing. The Court held that Defendant was not automatically entitled to such priority. Therefore, Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

After the United States Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service ("U.S.A./I.R.S.") filed a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay to Exercise the Right of Setoff, Noah J. and Connie C. Peterson ("Debtors") filed a Motion for Contempt against U.S.A./I.R.S. Both motions were heard at the same time. The Court did not agree with Debtors that U.S.A./I.R.S. had waived its right to setoff because it did not assert the right to setoff in its proof of claim. Therefore, the Court held in favor of U.S.A./I.R.S., granted its Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay to Exercise the Right of Setoff, and denied Debtors’ Motion for Contempt.

On the Chapter 7 Trustee’s Motion to Determine Whether Crop Disaster Payment is Property of the Estate, the Court held that the crop disaster payment was property of the estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1) because the right to the payment arose pre-petition when the disaster occurred.

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