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.

The Chapter 13 debtor moved to modify her Chapter 13 plan after confirmation. The debtor wanted to modify her plan to make payments to a secured creditor that had not filed a proof of claim. The debtor had completed all payments under her original 13 plan and all allowed claims had been paid in full. The Court held that there was no pending Chapter 13 plan to modify and noted that 11 U.S.C.A. § 1329(a) provides that a modification be made before the completion of payments under the plan.

The debtor contended that the creditor had failed to file an objection to dischargeability of debt within the time period provided by Bankruptcy Rule 4007(c). The Court noted that the final day to file a timely complaint was a Sunday and that the next day was a legal holiday. Thus, the creditor had until Tuesday to file a timely complaint. The Court noted that the creditor had filed its complaint on Tuesday and that the complaint was timely filed.

The defendants moved to transfer the adversary proceeding to the Southern District of New York for consolidation and coordination with a pending multidistrict class action litigation. The Court held that it did not have authority to transfer the adversary proceeding for coordinated or consolidated pretrial hearings under the multidisitrct litigation statute. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1407.

The Court also held that the defendants had not carried their burden of showing that transfer would be in the interest of justice or for the convenience of the parties. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1412. The Court held that mere allegations that witnesses and records were located in another district were insufficient to satisfy the defendants' burden.

A court order that could be set aside for improper service of process was a liquidated debt for purposes of Chapter 13 eligibility under section 109(e) because the determination to set aside the order can only be made with reference to specific legal criteria.

The creditor obtained a default judgment in state court when the debtor failed to respond to a request for production of documents. The state court's order stated that by reason of the debtor's default, the court affirmatively found that the actions of the debtor constituted a fraud on the creditor. The creditor contended that under collateral estoppel principles, the state court's order may be used to establish conclusively the elements of fraud in this dischargeability proceeding.

The Court disagreed, noting that the debtor was acting on the advice of counsel who advised that filing bankruptcy was inevitable. The Court also noted that the debtor was unable to produce the records because he no longer had control or access to his former business location and its business records.

Under amendment to Georgia homestead exemption, married debtor who held full ownership interest in martial property could claim $20,000 homestead exemption, even though his wife had not filed bankruptcy.

Court would not deviate from plain language of statute providing for avoidance of judicial lien in order to prevent windfall to debtors when there was neither certainty that a windfall would occur nor certainty that the Court could, by its decision prevent such a windfall.

A jury verdict for a specific dollar amount that had not been reduced to judgment was a liquidated debt for purposes of Chapter 13 eligibility under section 109(e) because the trial judge did not have unfettered discretion to change the amount of the verdict.

Judge John T. Laney, III

On a Motion to Dismiss, the Court held that statutes in derogation of common law must be strictly complied with, which follows an earlier ruling by the Court on a similar issue in a different case. The Court denied Speedee Cash of Georgia, Inc.’s ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss, as to Count One of Clarence Chester Brown, Sr.’s ("Debtor") Complaint, because the title pawn contract gave only a ten-day grace period, instead of a thirty-day grace period as required by the Georgia Pawnshop Act. The Court did grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, as to Count Two of Debtor’s Complaint, because the contract in dispute was for more than $3,000, therefore it did not fall under the Georgia Industrial Loan Act.

The Court held a hearing on two Motions of Samuel P. Scott ("Movant") for Relief from the Automatic Stay to pursue an action against Jackie G. and Patricia A. Willliams and Circle B Enterprises, Inc. ("Respondents") in state court. Under the test articulated in In re South Oakes Furniture, Inc., 167 B.R. 307 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 1994)(J. Walker), Movant was entitled to relief from the stay because the hardship to Movant to start over in Bankruptcy Court outweighed any hardship to Respondents if the case proceeded in state court where it had been pending for almost two years. Under the final prong of the test, the Court held that Movant had established a probability of prevailing on the merits.

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