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 Austin E. Carter

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

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.

The IRS filed a claim asserting priority status for the portion of its claim representing an exaction imposed (pursuant to I.R.C. § 72(t)) on account of a Debtor's early withdrawal from an IRA.  The Debtors objected that the exaction is not entitled priority by § 507(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code.  The IRS argued that the exaction was entitled to priority as a tax under § 507(a)(8)(A) or, alternatively, as a penalty in compensation of actual pecuniary loss under § 507(a)(8)(G).  The Court held that the exaction was not a tax because it was enacted primarily to deter early withdrawal of retirement funds rather than to support the government and, bearing no relation to any actual loss to the government, was accordingly a non-pecuniary-loss penalty not entitled to priority status.

Motion to reopen case for the purpose of filing reaffirmation agreements denied on grounds of futility because such reaffirmation agreements, being executed after granting of discharge, would be unenforceable under 11 U.S.C. § 524(c).

Chapter 7 Trustee sought avoidance under §§ 547 and 548 of alleged transfer of interest of Debtor in property.  Defendant recorded quitclaim deed transferring to Debtor one-half interest in property.  Transfer alleged by Trustee consisted of Debtor’s later (prepetition) execution and recordation of quitclaim deed as to such property in favor of Defendant.  Both deeds were apparently executed and recorded pursuant to unrecorded agreement under which Debtor was either to earn his interest in property by performing listed repairs by date certain or deed property back to Defendant (the “Agreement”).  Parties brought cross-motions for summary judgment, which the Court disposed of as follows: (1) cross-motions as to threshold issue of “transfer of an interest of the debtor in property” denied because genuine issue of fact existed as to whether equitable interests remained in Defendant (such as in constructive trust) and transfer was of bare legal title; (2) cross-motions as to Defendant’s assertion of Debtor’s exemption under § 522(g) denied because Defendant had no standing to raise Debtor’s exemptions; (3) cross-motions as to Defendant’s ordinary course defense under § 547(c)(2) denied because Agreement (though apparently constituting first-time debt) could potentially be shown as ordinary from record and second quitclaim was plausibly executed in accordance with Agreement’s terms; (4) Plaintiff’s motion as to Defendant’s new value defense under § 547(c)(4) granted (and Defendant’s motion denied) because Defendant did not show new value, and new value (if any) was not extended after alleged transfer.

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 defendants advanced funds to GLC.  The debtor personally guaranteed GLC’s notes.  After GLC defaulted, the debtor honored his guarantees by paying the balance due on the notes and taking an assignment of the notes, a profit sharing agreement and guarantees.  GLC’s business failed.  Thereafter, the debtor filed a Chapter 11 case.
    The debtor’s trustee sought to recover under bankruptcy and state fraudulent and preferential transfer statutes the payments made by the debtor to the defendants.  11 U.S.C. §§ 544(b), 547, 548(a), 550; O.C.G.A. §§ 18-2-74, -75.  The court held that the debtor had received reasonably equivalent value because he received a dollar for dollar satisfaction of his guarantee debt in return for his payments.  The court also ruled that the defendants were not non-statutory insiders of the debtor.  Since these adversary proceedings were “Stern-Core” matters to which the defendants did not consent to the court entering a final judgment, the court’s decision was a  proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Bankruptcy Rule 9033.

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.

No extreme circumstances (bad faith) exception present in § 1112 to Debtor's right to convert from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, and, even if Debtor engaged in serious preconversion misconduct, such misconduct not sufficient to prevent conversion under Court's equitable powers where conversion not prejudicial to creditors or abuse of process.

Creditor’s motion for relief from the automatic stay was denied.  Debtor’s right to redeem the vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 44-14-403(b)(1) was property of the bankruptcy estate, and it did not expire at the end of the sixty days provided by 11 U.S.C. § 108(b).  Debtor also was in possession of the vehicle at the time of the petition.  Debtor’s confirmed plan provided for Creditor’s secured claim.  Creditor failed to object to Debtor’s Chapter 13 plan prior to confirmation.  The doctrine of res judicata barred Creditor from objecting to the plan postconfirmation.