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.

Plaintiff, ex-wife of the Chapter 7 debtor, objected to discharge of certain debts payable by debtor to her or for her benefit under a divorce decree. The Court granted plaintiff’s request under Section 523(a)(5) as to house payments because the Court found the payments are in the nature of child support. The Court granted plaintiff’s request under Section 523(a)(15) as to two credit card debts incurred during the marriage because plaintiff met the prima facie case for nondischargeability, and debtor failed to establish either of the two exceptions. In considering an exception to nondischargeability under Section 523(a)(15)(A), the Court adopted a four-factor test to determine that debtor had ability to pay the two debts.

The Court decided motions from two defendants to open default arising from violations of the automatic stay and discharge injunction. Court considered four factors. The motion of one defendant was denied because the Court found he was culpable in the default due to his failure to retain counsel despite repeated suggestions by the Court that he do so. The Court granted the motion of the other defendant, finding failure of its explanation to file answer to be sufficient to satisfy good cause requirement.

The Court found Debtor failed to propose his plan in good faith based on Debtor’s dishonesty and fraud in his dealing with his creditors, his lack of candor toward the Court during his confirmation hearing, and his insincere motivations for seeking Chapter 13 relief.

Creditor objected to discharge under Section 523(a)(2)(B) of two debts. Court granted creditor’s request as to a $70,000 debt because debtor recklessly provided materially false financial information with the intent to deceive creditor. The Court denied creditor’s request as to a $30,000 debt because creditor’s reliance on debtor’s financial disclosures was not reasonable when the loan application was submitted more than three months after the date it was filled out and when creditor had a prior relationship with debtor that should have alerted creditor to possible inaccuracies on the application.

In a Chapter 13 case, the Court found that debtor’s attorney’s request for $1,150 in fees was unreasonably high and not made in good faith when debtor listed two creditors totaling less than $6,000, and the apparent sole purpose of filing was to seek shelter in the automatic stay from an aggressive creditor that posed no real threat to the debtor.

Wife authorized her husband to sign her name to financial statement. Husband misrepresented wife's income and assets. Creditor contended that wife's debt was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C.A. § 523(a)(2)(B). The Court held that the wife had not intended to deceive because she had reasonably believed that her husband knew her financial condition and that he would truthfully report that information on the financial statement.

Clinical psychologist provided counseling services to debtor's children and testified at child custody hearing. The Court held that debtor's obligation to pay for the services of the psychologist was a nondischargeable support obligation under 11 U.S.C.A. § 523(a)(5)(B).

Judge John T. Laney, III

The court denied Debtors’ motion for contempt to compel Respondent to pay Debtor’s attorney’s fees. Explaining that the court’s prior order awarding Debtors attorney’s fees was a money judgment, the court held that a money judgment is not enforcement by contempt. Therefore, the court concluded that Debtors’ counsel recourse was filing a fi. fa rather than obtaining a contempt order.

Under Alabama law, the court held that Debtor was allowed to exempt the earned income credit and non-earned income credit portions of her federal income tax refund. Relying on established Eleventh Circuit precedent, the court held that a mere delay in notifying the trustee of a tax refund until the first meeting of creditors did not demonstrate bad faith or prejudice. Therefore, the court overruled Trustee’s objection to Debtor’s claim of exemptions.

In cross motions for summary judgment in a preference action filed by the Chapter 13 Trustee, the court granted Defendant’s motion and denied Trustee’s motion. In a case of first impression under Alabama law, the court held that Defendant did not effectuate a lien release. Therefore, Trustee could not avoid the lien under § 547 or § 544.

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