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.

When the clerk's office issued an erroneous deadline for filing objections to discharge, the Court would use its equitable power under section 105(a) to accept an untimely motion to extend the bar date when the motion was filed prior to expiration of the erroneous deadline.

Transfer restriction on stock in closely held corporation was manifestly unreasonable and void because it limited transfers to family members, while providing no means for a shareholder to realize his value in the stock if family members were unwilling or unable to buy it. Because the restrictions were void, a creditor could validly foreclose on the debtor's shares.

When an undersecured creditor holds a security interest in real property and in post-petition rents generated from that property, each interest is entitled to separate adequate protection. Thus, the debtor must provide adequate protection to use post-petition rents that constitute cash collateral.  However, no adequate protection is necessary to the extent the rents are used to protect the underlying real property or to otherwise benefit the creditor's interest in the property.

After the debtor's discharge was revoked, the Court declined to retain jurisdiction over a sec. 523(a) nondischargeability proceeding for the purpose of reducing the creditor's state law claims to judgment. In reaching its decision to dismiss the adversary, the Court considered judicial economy, fairness to the parties, and difficulty of the legal issues.

Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in a § 523(a)(4) action for defalcation by a fiduciary when the Plaintiff failed to show that a trust relationship arose prior to its debt.

The Court declined to impose sanctions for behavior by the debtor’s personal injury attorney that amounted to professional discourtesy but did not violate any court orders or rules and did not evidence an attempt to abuse the judicial system.

Chief Judge James P. Smith

The court held that a Chapter 13 debtor, pursuant to a Chapter 13 plan, can use 11 U.S.C. § 506(a) to value a non-910 vehicle and then, under 11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(5)(C), surrender that vehicle in full satisfaction of the creditor’s claim where the value so determined is equal to or greater than the creditor’s claim. The court also held that the proper standard of value to be applied where the collateral is surrendered is the replacement value as of the date of the bankruptcy filing.

The “above median” Chapter 13 debtor proposed to pay in full all unsecured claims during the five year term of his plan.  The plan payment would be substantially lower than the debtor’s monthly net or disposable income.  The Court held that a plan satisfies 11 U.S.C. § 1325(b) if unsecured claims will be paid in full even if the claims could be paid in a shorter period of time if all monthly disposable income was contributed to plan payments.

The state court had held the debtor and his corporation in contempt of court for failing to produce certain maintenance records on a jet aircraft that was owned by the creditor, and certain personal property in which the creditor held a security interest.  The creditor argued that the contempt order was entitled to collateral estoppel effect in its objection to discharge and dischargeability actions against the debtor.  The bankruptcy court held that although the contempt order was a final order and that the debtor was bound by the order, that the contempt order had not resolved the same or similar issues presented in the creditor’s objection to discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 727(a).  The bankruptcy court, however, held that the contempt order had established that the debtor had willfully and maliciously injured property and collateral of the creditor and that the creditor’s claims for those injuries were nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).

Judge John T. Laney, III

The Chapter 7 trustee moved to reopen a closed case to administer settlement proceeds as property of the estate.  The settlement was on account of a injury caused by prepetition by prescription medication, but the debtor did not know the cause of the injury until after the bankruptcy case was closed. Georgia's discovery rule states that a cause of action does not accrue until a plaintiff knows what caused the injury. Inconsistent Eleventh Circuit authority put the Court in a difficult position, but the Court denied the trustee's Motion to Reopen.  The debtor's product liability lawsuit did not accrue under Georgia law until he knew the cause of his injury.  Because the lawsuit did not accrue prepetition, the settlement proceeds were not property of the estate.

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