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 court found that under Georgia law, a corporation may seek to pierce its own corporate veil. Thus, in a Chapter 11 case, a veil piercing alter ego action is property of the estate and may only be brought by the trustee unless abandoned. Any alter ego suits brought by individual creditors are subject to the automatic stay.

Court granted creditor’s motion to reopen case to file a § 523(c) nondischargeability complaint. Despite passage of deadline for filing the complaint, creditor could present a colorable argument for the equitable tolling of the deadline. Thus, allowing the case to be reopened would not be futile.

Creditor filed a complaint of objection debtor’s bankruptcy case. However, because the complaint contained no allegations, even when read liberally in creditor’s favor, that would entitle him to relief under Section 523(a) or any other provision of the Bankruptcy Code, the Court granted the debtor’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the adversary proceeding.

Plaintiff filed discovery requests, including Request for Admissions, prior to conference required by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(f). Defendant failed to respond to the Request for Admissions. The Court held that Plaintiff's Request for Admissions was not served in accordance with requirements of Rule 26(d) and that the Defendant cannot be deemed to have admitted any matters contained therein. The Request for Admissions was stricken from the record and the Plaintiff must start over with all its discovery.

The attorneys for Chapter 7 debtor filed an application for attorney's fees, contending that their services benefited the estate. The Court held that an attorney who has represented the Chapter 7 debtor is not entitled to compensation from the estate unless the Court has approved the attorney's appointment for a specified special purpose under 11 U.S.C.A. section 327(e). The Court dismissed, without prejudice, the application so that the attorneys could seek special appointment and, if appointed, file an application for attorney's fees in accordance with applicable standards.

Judge John T. Laney, III

Analyzing Debtor’s Motion to Compel deposition testimony of the Official Committee’s testifying expert and to produce certain documents that had been withheld from discovery, the court reasoned under Rule 26(a)(2)(B) that the attorney-client and work product doctrine protections are trumped by the Rule 26 discovery rules pertaining to testifying experts. The court granted the motion in part, to the extent that the Official Committee had waived attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine protections in communications with and information given to/from the testifying expert.

Answering the question whether a debtor’s car that had been repossessed just prior to the debtor filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy was property of the bankruptcy estate, the court analyzed a new 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Bell-Tel Federal Credit Union v. Kalter (In re Kalter), 292 F.3d 1350 (11th Cir 2002), regarding Florida law. Upon reconsidering its opinion in American Honda Finance Corp. v. Littleton (In re Littleton), 220 B.R. 710 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 1998), the court held that Georgia case law provides direction on this issue. Thus, In re Kalter is not controlling as applied to Georgia law and the repossessed car is property of the bankruptcy estate.

In a trial to determine the validity, priority and extent of liens between competing parties, the court had previously ruled that the law of the Czech Republic was to govern the issues in this trial. Because the party which had the burden to prove foreign law under Rule 44.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure failed to meet its burden, the court held that party had no interest in the subject property.

As to the issue of which law should apply to the validity and priority of liens on the property central to the adversary proceeding, the court held that the law of the Czech Republic is the controlling law. Pursuant to the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft, 4 U.S.T. 1830, the law of the country where the aircraft is registered is the law which governs property rights in aircraft. No party disputes that the subject aircraft is registered in the Czech Republic.

The court denied the motion of Southwest Georgia Bank ("SWGA") for relief from the automatic stay and SWGA’s motion to dismiss the case. In a prior Chapter 11 case, Debtor consented to a plan provision whereby he would not oppose relief from stay in any subsequent case that he might file within five years. The court held that such waivers of the automatic stay are enforceable, however, they not per se enforceable and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the court found that others factors outweighed Debtor’s waiver. Therefore, the court denied SWGA’s motion for relief conditioned on Debtor’s strict compliance to payments to SWGA. As to SWGA’s motion to dismiss the case, the court found no evidence of bad faith and therefore, denied that motion.

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