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

On the Chapter 7 Trustee’s Motion to Determine Whether Crop Disaster Payment is Property of the Estate, the Court held that the crop disaster payment was property of the estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1) because the right to the payment arose pre-petition when the disaster occurred.

After the United States Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service ("U.S.A./I.R.S.") filed a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay to Exercise the Right of Setoff, Noah J. and Connie C. Peterson ("Debtors") filed a Motion for Contempt against U.S.A./I.R.S. Both motions were heard at the same time. The Court did not agree with Debtors that U.S.A./I.R.S. had waived its right to setoff because it did not assert the right to setoff in its proof of claim. Therefore, the Court held in favor of U.S.A./I.R.S., granted its Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay to Exercise the Right of Setoff, and denied Debtors’ Motion for Contempt.

Georgia Power Co. ("Defendant") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that the post-petition, pre-conversion debt owed by Stephanie M. Davis ("Plaintiff") was collectable in addition to the deposit, as set out in 11 U.S.C. § 366, as an administrative expense under 11 U.S.C. § 503(b). In ruling against Defendant’s motion, the Court held that the effect of 11 U.S.C. § 348 was that the post-petition, pre-conversion debt was to be treated as if it had arisen just prior to the filing of the petition, unless it was determined to be an administrative expense under 11 U.S.C. § 503(b), which requires notice and a hearing. The Court held that Defendant was not automatically entitled to such priority. Therefore, Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The Court held a final pre-trial conference in an adversary proceeding to determine the dischargeability of a debt arising from a state court default judgment in favor of William Bass, Carolyn Burgess, and Haven Hills Estates ("Plaintiffs") against Wayne Barber ("Defendant"). To determine whether collateral estoppel applies, the Court must apply the law of the state in which the judgment was entered. Under Georgia law three elements must be present for collateral estoppel to apply; 1) the issue must be identical to the issue resolved in state court; 2) the issued was "actually and necessarily" litigated in the state court case; 3) the resolution of the issue was essential to the state court case. The Court determined that the Defendant’s liability, which was determined by default, was not "actually and necessarily" litigated in the state court, therefore collateral estoppel was not applicable.

The Court held a telephonic hearing to determine whether to close David and Vicki Wrens’("Debtors") case nunc pro tunc. The Wrens reopened the case to address an adversary proceeding, but failed to pay Trustee fees or file monthly operating reports in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1930 (a)(6). The Court determined that the Debtors did not meet the burden of extraordinary circumstances required for the granting of retroactive relief.

Robert F. Hershner, Jr. (Retired)

An individual who is not a licensed attorney filed on behalf of a corporation a complaint objecting to the dischargeability of debt. The Court advised that a corporation must be represented by an attorney in federal court. The corporation failed to obtain an attorney. The Court dismissed the corporation's complaint.

Three Opinions: Mr. Lavender’s Motion, Judge Rice’s Motion, Puckett Foundations’ Motion - The debtor was hired to construct an addition to a home. The debtor received payment from the homeowner but failed to pay one of his subcontractors. The debtor and his wife filed for Chapter 13 relief. The homeowner filed an application for a criminal warrant against the debtor. The subcontractor filed a materialman's lien against the homeowner's property. The district attorney caused the debtor to be indicted for theft by conversion.

The debtor contended that the defendants had conspired to violate the automatic stay and that the defendants were using the criminal proceeding to collect a civil debt. The debtor sought sanctions, injunctive relief, and damages.

The Court held that the district attorney and the magistrate court judge had absolute immunity from a civil suit for damages. The subcontractor, in filing a materialman's lien, was exercising its rights to collect from the homeowner's property. The Court held that the debtor was not entitled to injunctive relief because he had not shown that a "debt collection defense" could not be raised in the state court criminal proceeding.

The debtor defaulted on monthly payments under a Contract For Deed. The contract provided a specific address for notices of default and termination. The creditor sent the notices to another address. The Court held that the creditor had not complied with the notice requirements and denied the creditor's motion for relief to dispossess the debtor.

Judge James D. Walker, Jr.

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.

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