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.

Chief 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.

On Summary Judgement the Court was asked to decide a narrow issue regarding federal tax liens. Specifically, the issue before the Court was whether accounts receivable acquired by the debtor more than 45 days after the filing of a notice of tax lien on the debtor's property may be considered proceeds of contract rights acquired by the debtor prior to the expiration of that 45 day period, so as to give the security interest of a commercial creditor in the receivables priority over the tax lien. The Court held that payments received by the Debtor under its contract after the filing of the tax liens were identifiable proceeds of contract rights, rather than accounts receivable. Therefore, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §§ 6323(a) and (c) the Bank's prior perfected security interest in the contract payments is senior to the IRS's tax lien.

Judge James P. Smith

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).

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.

Judge James D. Walker Jr. (Retired)

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.

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.

For debts subject to a co-signer, when the debtor's plan fails to provide for payment of interest at the contract rate, the creditor is entitled to stay relief against the codebtor to collect any amounts due under the contract but not provided for in the plan.

Debtor who omitted from his schedules information about significant financial assets relating to a business, a worker's compensation claim, and a divorce and who resisted fully answering questions about the assets at trial was denied a discharge under 11 USC § 727(a)(4)(A) for making a false oath in connection with his bankruptcy case.

Loan agreement between the debtor and oversecured creditor provided for 15% attorney fees. Such attorney fees are only enforceable under state law if perfected by a notice that gives the debtor 10 days to avoid the fees by paying the debt in full. The creditor did not send the 10-day notice prior to the petition date, yet requested the contractual amount of attorney fees pursuant to 11 USC § 506(b). The Court allowed attorney fees, but limited them to an amount determined to be reasonable.

Debtor may not exempt a health savings account under O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(2)(C) or (E). An HSA is not the type of illness benefit contemplated by the exemption statute because it does not serve as a replacement for income.

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