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 creditor repossessed a vehicle three days before the debtor filed for Chapter 13 relief. The creditor refused to turn over the vehicle, contending that the vehicle was not property of the bankruptcy estate. The creditor relied upon Bell-Tel Federal Credit Union v. Kalter (In re Kalter), 292 F.3d 1350 (11th Cir. 2002) (under Florida law, ownership in vehicle terminated upon repossession). The Court concluded that repossession, by itself, is not sufficient to terminate ownership under Georgia law. The Court ordered the creditor to turn over the vehicle contingent upon the debtor providing adequate protection.

Chief Judge John T. Laney, III

On a motion for summary judgment, the court held that statutes in derogation of common law must be strictly complied with. The court ruled against Speedee Cash of Columbus, Inc. ("Defendant") because the title pawn contract did not strictly comply with the Georgia Pawnshop Act. Since Defendant’s contract was not in strict compliance, it was not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

Ruling on Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s ("Defendant") Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court stated that Education Credit Management Corp. v. Carter (In re Carter), 279 B.R. 872 (M.D. Ga. 2002), set a very high standard for undue hardship. However, the Court could not make such a determination as a matter of law because there were genuine issues of material fact which remained in dispute. The Court denied Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

The Court held trial on Sarah P. McGinnis’ ("Plaintiff") Complaint to Determine Dischargeability of Student Loan Debt against Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency ("Defendant"). The Court, analyzing "undue hardship" under the Brunner test in view of Education Credit Management Corp. v. Carter (In re Carter), 279 B.R. 872 (M.D. Ga. 2002), held Plaintiff’s debt to be dischargeable as an undue hardship. The Court cited Plaintiff’s short-term and long-term financial difficulties due to "a total foreclosure of job prospects in her area of training," as well as her good faith effort towards repayment, as reasons for holding that Plaintiff would be subject to an undue hardship if she were forced to repay her student loans.

Judge James D. Walker Jr. (Retired)

When a secured creditor repossesses and sell collateral following a grant of stay relief, it must file an amended claim. If the creditor fails to do so within the time period prescribed by Court order, that order will provide for designation of the claim as fully satisfied.

The debtor claimed a homestead exemption pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1) in certain real property in which she had a security interest. The exemption requires that the property be used as the debtor’s residence. In this case, it was uncontested that the debtor did not reside on the property claimed as exempt, thus the Court sustained the trustee’s objection to the exemption.

Robert F. Hershner, Jr. (Retired)

Chapter 7 debtor claimed as exempt his stock in several corporations. Debtor listed the value of the claimed exemption as $10. The trustee was concerned that the stock may increase in value and argued that the exemption should be limited to the amount claimed, $10. The Court rejected the trustee's argument that the trustee should be entitled to any post-petition appreciation in value of the stock.

The complaint's style showed Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. to be the defendant in the adversary proceeding. CitiMortgage, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The complaint made no mention of CitiMortgage, Inc. and sought no relief against CitiMortgage, Inc. The Court held that CitiMortgage, Inc. was not a party that may file a motion to dismiss and denied the motion to dismiss.

Hester contended that the debtor's obligations arising from their divorce were nondischargeable. The Court held that the obligations were dischargeable under 11 U.S.C.A. section 523(a)(15) because the debtor did not have the ability to pay the obligations. The Court held that the debtor's agreement not to list her divorce obligations on a bankruptcy petition was not enforceable. The Court further held that the debtor's agreement that the obligations would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy was not dispositive of the issue under section 523(a)(15) under the facts of this adversary proceeding.

A complaint was filed to deny the debtor's discharge and to determine that the debtor's obligations were nondischargeable. Some four years later, the Chapter 7 trustee filed a motion to compromise. The compromise would require that the Chapter 7 debtor pay a total of $45,000 and the Chapter 7 trustee would dismiss with prejudice the adversary proceeding. One creditor objected to the compromise, contending that the debtor had committed fraud and was "buying a discharge." The Court, after considering the factors set forth by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, approved the compromise.

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