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

Chapter 7 Trustee filed an objection to the claimed exemptions by Debtors in a singlewide mobile home (“Singlewide”) and in real property on which a block house was constructed. Debtors claimed the exemption under O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1), Georgia’s opt-out homestead exemption statute. Debtors argued that their equity interest in the Singlewide could be exempted under O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1) since their 22 year-old daughter and minor grandson occupied the Singlewide at the time Debtors’ bankruptcy petition was filed. Debtors claimed that their daughter and grandson were “dependent” for purposes of the homestead exemption statute. The evidence at the hearing revealed that Debtors had claimed their daughter and grandson as “dependents” on their 2005 income tax returns and that the daughter and grandson did, in fact, occupy the Singlewide at the time Debtors’ petition was filed. With regard to the Singlewide, the Court found that the Trustee did not present evidence sufficient to prove that Debtors’ daughter and grandson were not dependents of Debtors for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1). Therefore, the claim of exemption in the Singlewide was proper since the Singlewide was the residence of Debtors or their dependents. As to the block house property, however, the Court found that there was no legal basis for exempting the equity interest in a rental property owned by a debtor just because that property was located contiguous to the homestead or residence of the debtors. The Court, therefore, sustained the objection of the Trustee as to the claim of exemption in the block house property.

The discharge of student loans is reserved for those most extreme instances of financial destitution. It is the Court’s finding that this debtor finds herself in such a situation. The Court holds that Debtor has carried her burden of proving, under the standard set forth in In re Brunner and adopted by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Cox, that excepting Debtor’s student loan debt from discharge would impose an undue hardship on Debtor and her dependent son. As such, the student loan debt at issue, representing loans made by ECMC and the DOE, is held to be dischargeable.

Judge James D. Walker Jr. (Retired)

The defendants in default were not allowed to file a late answer because they offered no excuse for the default.

Objection to the inclusion of exculpation and indemnification clauses in the plan was overruled because the clauses are not prohibited by the Bankruptcy Code, do not offend public policy, and are not unreasonable.

Creditors were entitled to stay relief on an expedited basis because the Debtor was ineligible for Chapter 13 at the time he filed his case.

At issue in this preference action was whether a credit card charge used to pay a debt constituted an interest in property of the debtor. The Court found it did because the debtor could not have initiated and directed the transfer of funds from his credit card account if he had no interest in the funds.

Robert F. Hershner, Jr. (Retired)

The Chapter 13 debtor filed a motion to extend the automatic stay to prevent the mortgage creditor from dispossessing her from her residence. The court held that the debtor's interest was terminated by a pre-petition foreclosure and that the residence was not property of the bankruptcy estate. The court denied the debtor's motion to the extent it sought to extend the automatic stay to the mortgage creditor.

Chapter 13 debtor proposed to surrender her vehicle in full satisfaction of her obligation to secured creditor. Creditor contended that it was entitled to file an unsecured claim for any deficiency that remains after it disposes of the vehicle. The court held that the creditor was not entitled to file an unsecured claim for a deficiency.

The creditor financed the Chapter 13 debtor's purchase of a vehicle. The creditor's claim was secured by a purchase money security interest in a motor vehicle that was acquired within the 910 days preceding the date the debtor filed for bankruptcy relief. The creditor contended that the vehicle was "acquired for the personal use of the debtor" and that its claim was protected from bifurcation by the hanging paragraph of 11 U.S.C.A. § 1325(a)(5). The court disagreed and held that a vehicle acquired for use by the non-debtor wife was not "acquired for the personal use of the debtor" and that the claim was not protected from bifurcation by the hanging paragraph.

The attorney for the Chapter 7 trustee filed an application for interim compensation. The court applied the factors listed in 11 U.S.C.A. § 330(a)(3) in awarding interim compensation.

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