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 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.

In Defendant’s motion to set aside the entry of default, the court found that "good cause" under Rule 55(c) existed. Although the pro se Defendant’s excuse for failing to file a timely answer was questionable, the court held that the strength of Defendant’s meritorious defense outweighed the weakness of his excuse. Therefore, the court granted Defendant’s motion to set aside the entry of default.

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.

Pursuant to Bankruptcy Rules 3302(c)(1) and 3004, a debtor’s time to file a proof of claim on behalf of a government creditor begins running on the day after the first date set for the 341(a) meeting and extends to 210 days following entry of the order for relief.

Repayment of the debtor's student loans was not an undue hardship. The debtor's salary had increased by $15,000 during the past six years, yet the debtor had made no payments on her student loans. The debtor did not show any unexpected or unusual circumstances except for her divorce.

Court denied summary judgment to chapter 13 trustee seeking to avoid creation of a lien as a preference. Trustee failed to provide any information as to the debtor’s assets and liabilities, so the Court was unable to determine whether the fifth element of a preference action–creditor is better off than it would be in a hypothetical liquidation–was satisfied. At a minimum, the Court needs sufficient facts to determine whether the case would pay a 100% dividend.

The automatic stay does not require a creditor to release a prepetition garnishment. The creditor need only make a good faith effort to stop the garnishment, taking careful and deliberate steps to do so, such as staying the garnishment.

 

The plaintiff contends that certain debts from a divorce decree were nondischargeable alimony, maintenance, or child support obligations. The Court determined that the obligations were not in the nature of support and that the debtor never had the financial ability to meet her obligations.

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