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.

A creditor who filed three proofs of claim for a single judgment debt was entitled to only vote on the Debtor’s Chapter 11 plan. The Court found that the three proofs of claim represented a single debt capable of a single satisfaction and, therefore, must be treated as one claim for voting purposes.

The debtor pledged his truck to a pawnbroker. The debtor did not cure his default within the applicable time, and the truck was automatically forfeited to the pawnbroker. The debtor filed a Chapter 13 case and proposed to pay the pawnbroker as a secured claim. The pawnbroker filed a proof of claim and received preconfirmation adequate protection payments. When the debtor defaulted on his plan payments, his case was dismissed and the pawnbroker repossessed the truck. The debtor filed a second Chapter 13 case and contented that the pawnbroker had waived its ownership of the truck by filing a proof of claim in the first case and accepting adequate protection payments. The court held that under 11 USC § 349, dismissal of the first case returned the parties to the positions as they existed at the time of the filing and that the pawnbroker was the owner of the truck. The court denied the debtor's motion for turnover of the truck.

Georgia debtors may not use O.C.G.A. § 33-25-11 to exempt from their bankruptcy estate the cash value of life insurance policies.

A creditor who filed three proofs of claim for a single judgment debt was entitled to only vote on the Debtor’s Chapter 11 plan. The Court found that the three proofs of claim represented a single debt capable of a single satisfaction and, therefore, must be treated as one claim for voting purposes.

The Court sua sponte dismissed an involuntary Chapter 7 against an individual when the Court could determine as a matter of law that the filing creditor did not hold a valid claim and, thus, was ineligible to file petition.

Chief Judge James P. Smith

The court denied the creditor's motion for summary judgment contending that a certain obligation was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(B).  Although the debtor had listed on his financial statement certain real property that he did not own, the debtor, in his affidavit, testified that he had told the creditor's loan officer that he did not own it, but included the property on his financial statement in compliance with the loan officer's instruction.  The court held that there were material facts in dispute regarding the creditor's reliance, its reasonable reliance and the debtor's intent to deceive concerning the debtor's financial statement.

The Chapter 13 debtor contended that his obligation to buy a replacement home for his former spouse was a dischargeable property division rather than a nondischargeable domestic support obligation.  The court disagreed and held that the debtor's obligation to buy a replacement home was a nondischargeable support obligation.

The creditor filed a motion to extend the deadline to file a complaint objecting to the dischargeability of debt after the deadline for filing such complaint had expired. The creditor had received the notice from the court which contained the deadline to file complains but failed to do so. The creditor asked that the deadline be equitably tolled because, the creditor alleged, he missed the deadline because he allowed the debtor to induce him to take no action in the bankruptcy case. The court denied the request for equitable relief, finding that there had been no deception or act of fraud about the dischargeability objection deadline by the debtor in his communications with the creditor.

The debtor's Chapter 13 plan proposed to separately classify a non-dischargeable student loan debt and pay that debt more than other general unsecured creditors. The debtor would be eligible for a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if she made 120 consecutive payments without default on her student loan. This would allow the debtor to write off $50,000 in student loans. The plan as proposed would give the other unsecured creditors a 15 percent distribution. Without the separate classification, the distribution would be 20 percent, with an additional amount of $5,000, to the other unsecured creditors. The court held that this separate classification was not unfair discrimination under 11 U.S.C. § 1322(b)(1) and that the Chapter 13 plan could be confirmed over the trustee's objection.

Judge John T. Laney, III

The plaintiffs in this adversary proceeding moved to amend its complaint after the time to amend as a matter of right had passed.  The plaintiffs wanted to add facts they were aware of but forgot to tell their attorney.  The defendants objected to the amendment as an attempt to delay, as creating further expenses, and as untimely. The Court found that the defendants had not put forth any facts or legal arguments demonstrating any prejudicial delay or undue expenses. The Court further concluded that the amendments can be read such that they do not add a new claim and thus need not relate back to the original complaint, and even if the amendments added a new claim, the new claim would arise out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out in the original complaint, and thus the amendments would relate back.

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