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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.

Applying the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1), the court allowed a married debtor filing individually to take a $20,000 homestead exemption when his residence was titled solely in his name, even though debtor and his spouse had been separated for 20 years and she maintained a separate residence.

The creditor loaned the debtor funds to purchase a residence. The debtor moved from the residence. The debtor offered to pay through her Chapter 13 plan the value of the residence and to treat the remainder of the creditor's claim as unsecured. The creditor contended that modification of its claim was prohibited by 11 U.S.C.A. § 1322(b)(2) because its claim was secured by the debtor's principal residence.

The Court held that the critical date for deciding whether a creditor qualifies for § 1322(b)(2) protection is the date the petition is filed, not the date the loan was made. The Court held that the creditor's claim was not protected because the residence was not the debtor's principal residence when the bankruptcy petition was filed

The so-called "no-look" fee set forth in Local Rule 2002-1 does not set a fee, but acknowledges that $1,500 typically will be a reasonable fee in a Chapter 13 case. The debtor’s attorney is obligated to request a lesser fee when appropriate.

The debtor filed a complaint to subordinate the creditors' secured claims to all unsecured claims for purposes of distribution, 11 U.S.C.A. § 510(c).The creditors filed a motion to dismiss contending that a prior pending action in state court would determine the issues presented. The Court denied the motion to dismiss noting that the state court has no jurisdiction to subordinate the defendant's allowed claims. The Court also noted that the defendants' claims may be subordinated to some but not all unsecured claims.

Applicants sought reimbursement as administrative expenses the attorney fees they incurred in bringing an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition against the debtor. 11 U.S.C.A. § 503(b)(3)(A), (4). The debtor argued that the itemization of the services did not adequately describe the services rendered. The court held that the itemization was sufficient and was similar to those submitted in other bankruptcy cases. The court disallowed services which were not necessary to bringing the involuntary petition.

A surety provided a guardian bond to the debtors who were the guardians of their minor daughter. The debtors were removed as guardians and the successor guardian called upon the surety to honor its bond. The surety obtained a confession of judgment from the debtors. The debtors filed for Chapter 7 relief and the surety contended the debtors obligation was a nondischargeable defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity.

The court held that the surety was entitled to summary judgment on the issue that the debtors were acting in a fiduciary capacity and that the surety was a proper party to bring the nondischargeable action. The court held that there remain material questions of fact as to whether the debtors committed a defalcation.

The court denied the trustee’s motion to compromise an adversary proceeding for turnover when the action turned on a relatively simple issue state law cause of action in which the trustee had a probable chance of success, and the holders of the majority of unsecured claims opposed the settlement.

The court granted retroactive stay relief to validate a foreclosure sale when the creditor had no actual knowledge of the bankruptcy filing at the date of foreclosure and the debtor received no benefit from the real estate. Furthermore, the debtor had no equity in the property and it was not necessary to effectuate his Chapter 13 plan; thus the creditor was entitled to stay relief.

Judge John T. Laney, III

The Court held a hearing on Washington Mutual Home Loans’ motion for Relief from the Stay. The security deed at issue was notarized, but not witnessed by an unofficial witness as required under O.C.G.A. § 44-14-61. The court found the security deed was unperfected because it did not meet the statutory requirements. However, the Trustee did not bring an action to avoid the nonperfected lien, so the issue of whether an unrecorded security deed has priority over a subsequent judgment lien was not before the court.

Creditor, Farmers Furniture, objected to the confirmation hearing in the Cersey and Ledford cases because the Debtors’ plans did not include all of the collateral securing the notes executed between the Debtors and Farmers Furniture. The Debtors claimed that the purchase money security interest ("PMSI") in the collateral was lost under the Transformation Rule when subsequent contracts with cross-security clauses were executed. However, the case law regarding this issue holds that if the contract contain a method for allocation, the PMSI will be enforceable. Because the contracts at issue contained an adequate allocation method, the PMSIs are enforceable.