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.

The Court entered a "form discharge order" which purported to discharge the debtor's student loan obligation. The debtor had not filed an adversary proceeding contending that payment of her student loans would be an undue hardship. The Court determined that its discharge order was rendered in a manner inconsistent with due process and thus void under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4).

Having determined that it has the power to rule on the constitutionality of provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, the Court declared that 11 U.S.C. § 106(a), which abrogates the sovereign immunity of governmental units, is unconstitutional as applied to the states.

Debtor sought a determination that certain federal income tax liabilities were dischargeable. The Court held the taxes nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(1)(B) due to Debtor’s failure to file tax returns. Substitute returns completed by the IRS did not constitute returns under § 523(a)(1)(B) because they were not signed by Debtor and because Debtor refused to cooperate in their preparation. An installment agreement signed by Debtor did not constitute a return because it did not contain the information necessary to calculate tax liability.

After Debtor’s discharge was granted, Plaintiff sought to file complaint to determine dischargeability of debt under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2), (a)(5), and (a)(15). The Court held that Plaintiff’s § 523(a)(5) claim could be filed at any time without leave of court and that Plaintiff could not file a claim under § 523(a)(2) and (a)(15) because she had missed the deadline for doing so set by Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4007(c). However, with respect to her § 523(a)(2) claim, Plaintiff could file a complaint under § 523(a)(3)(b) if her debt was neither listed nor scheduled and she had no actual knowledge of the bankruptcy prior to the deadline for filing a nondischargeability complaint. In addition, because Debtor’s case was a no asset Chapter 7, Plaintiff could file a nondischargeability complaint if her debt was unscheduled by fraud or intentional design.

Principals of Debtor guaranteed a debt owed by Debtor and secured the guaranty with certain of Debtor’s equipment. When Debtor filed a Chapter 11 petition, the guarantors filed a contingent claim. After the guarantors made a payment on the debt, the Court allowed them a secured claim for the amount of the payment.

The debtor purchased, on an installment basis, real property in order to develop a subdivision. The debtor failed to record the deed to secure debt in favor of the creditor. Subsequent lenders foreclosed on part of the tract. The creditor obtained a default judgment in state court for the balance owed on the installment sale. The bankruptcy court held that the debtor had made a false representation that he would record the deed to secure debt in favor of the creditor. The bankruptcy court held that the creditor's obligations were nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C.A. section 523(a)(2)(A).

The debtor claimed his IRA as exempt property. The Chapter 7 trustee contended that the debtor converted a nonexempt asset (a cashier's check) into an exempt asset (an IRA) on the eve of bankruptcy, with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors. The court held that the debtor's IRA was excluded from property of the bankruptcy estate and could not be claimed as exempt.

Judge John T. Laney, III

The court abstained from ruling in this adversary proceeding and dismissed Debtor’s complaint without prejudice. Although the Georgia Department of Revenue’s motion to dismiss was based on its Eleventh Amendment immunity, the court made no conclusion as to the immunity issue. Rather, the court held that no bankruptcy purpose would be served by making a determination of Debtor’s tax liability to the Georgia Department of Revenue in a no-asset case where Debtor had received her discharge.

The court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration of its April 3, 2001 order which denied Plaintiffs’ motion to open default. Because of the relief sought, the court construed Plaintiffs’ motion to open default as a motion to extend the time to file an amended complaint. Given Plaintiffs’ six month delay in moving for an extension without an explanation for the delay, the court found that the delay was not the result of excusable neglect.

In two related chapter 11 cases in which a single estate was created, the court granted, in part, Debtors’ motion for determination of their tax liability to the Muscogee County Board of Tax Assessors. The motion sought a determination of the value of Debtors’ personal property for the 1996 through 2000 tax years. The court determined the value of Debtors’ personal property for the 1997 through 2000 tax years and ordered the Muscogee County Board of Tax Assessors to recalculate Debtors’ tax liability in accordance with the court determined values. However, Debtors’ tax liability for the 1996 tax year had been adjudicated by an administrative tribunal prior to the filing of Debtors’ bankruptcy cases. Therefore, pursuant to § 505(a)(2)(A), the court was without jurisdiction to determine Debtors’ tax liability for the 1996 tax year.

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