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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.

Chief Judge James P. Smith

The plaintiff, a law firm, contended that the debtor had agreed to pay his outstanding legal fees, as well as subsequent fees, as soon as he received his income tax refund if the law firm would continue to represent him in certain state court litigation. The law firm continued to represent the debtor, the debtor failed to pay his legal fees, and the law firm obtained a state court judgment against the debtor in state court. After the debtor filed bankruptcy, the law firm contended the debt was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A). The court held that the debtor’s oral representation to use his tax refund to pay the legal fees was not a statement respecting his financial condition, that the law firm’s reliance was justifiable, and that, if the law firm proved the remaining elements of section 523(a)(2)(A), the law firm’s claim for damages included legal fees incurred both prior to and subsequent to the alleged misrepresentation.

The Chapter 13 debtor’s plan separately classified and paid in full an unsecured debt guaranteed by his father while other unsecured creditors would receive a fourteen percent dividend. Some 51.5 percent of the “classified debt” was incurred to pay the debtor’s income taxes. The court held that although the debtor was paying all his disposable income into the plan, 11 U.S.C. § 1325(b)(1)(B), that the classified unsecured debt was not a “consumer debt” because a majority of it was incurred to pay an income tax debt. The court also held that the separate classification of the unsecured debt guaranteed by the father unfairly discriminated against other creditors. 11 U.S.C. § 1322(b)(1).

Creditor's deceased husband had invested in a liquidation business (GLC) but later lost the money invested when GLC turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.  Creditor contended that debtor had solicited her deceased husband to invest while knowing that GLC was a Ponzi scheme and that claim was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. Section 523(a)(2)(A), (4) and (6).  Court found that debtor did not know about Ponzi scheme, that there was no intent to deceive and the claim was dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Upon motion of the Chapter 13 trustee, the Court disallowed a late-filed general unsecured claim under 11 U.S.C. § 502(b)(9) when the creditor had timely notice of the claims bar date. The Court concluded it had no equitable power to allow the claim when Code provides for disallowance of untimely claims in Chapter 13 and the Rules prohibit extension of the time to file a claim except in limited circumstances not present in this case.

Court denied Debtor-Defendant's motion for summary judgment on determination of dischargeability and objection to discharge when the movant's Statement of Uncontested Facts failed to include any facts probative of the causes of action.

Secured creditor objected to confirmation of Chapter 13 Debtor's plan on the ground that the plan undervalued its collateral, a manufactured home. Debtor conceded the home was undervalued but disputed the creditor's valuation. At a hearing, Debtor presented evidence of value based on a market approach and comparable sales, and the creditor presented evidence of value based on a cost approach and NADA values. The court found Debtor's evidence better reflected current retail values for manufactured homes in the locality. Therefore, the Court accepted the value proffered by Debtor and required Debtor to amend his plan to reflect that value.

Debtor's errors and omissions from schedules were based on carelessness and inadequate legal counsel. They did not rise to the level of fraudulent intent necessary to deny a discharge under 11 USC sec. 727(a)(2) or (a)(4).

Judge John T. Laney, III

The matter came before the Court on debtor’s Motion for Contempt against the Internal Revenue Service. The debtor argued that because the IRS’s proof of claim classified her year 2002 tax debts as general unsecured and because the discharge order discharged all general unsecured debt, that the Chapter 13 discharge order encompassed the 2002 tax debt. Accordingly, the debtor’s motion sought to hold the IRS in contempt for violation of the discharge injunction based on the IRS’s attempt to collect the 2002 tax debt. The Court held that the tax debt was non-dischargeable, and therefore the IRS did not violate the discharge injunction by attempting to collect the 2002 tax debt.

The creditor who financed the debtor's vehicle purchase was named as a lienholder on the vehicle title certificate, despite the debtor not having signed a security agreement. The debtor moved the Court to order the creditor to remove its name from the title. Under Florida law, which applied to this case, notation on a title certificate does not in itself grant a security interest--the security interest must be in a separate, written document. The Court held that the creditor was unsecured and granted the debtor's motion.

The Chapter 7 trustee moved for summary judgment in an adversary proceeding seeking to avoid the debtor's allegedly fraudulent transfers to the debtor's son. In a lengthy opinion, the Court held that the record contained many disputed issues of material fact arising from the defendant's argument that the debtor was merely returning property belonging to the debtor. The Court also examined the impact of the 2010 amendments to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.