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.

Judge James D. Walker Jr. (Retired)

The plaintiff did not establish the collateral estoppel effect of a state court tortious interference action on her § 523(a)(6) claim because she failed to prove an identity of issues. The plaintiff did not show the standard applied in the state court, and therefore the Court could not determine if the state court jury found that debtor had acted wilfully and maliciously.

Where the debtor had participated in a class action settlement against a creditor for violations of various consumer protection statutes, res judicata bars the debtor from asserting similar claims against that creditor except to the extent the claims are based solely on the creditor's post-settlement conduct.

The Court allowed the creditor's claim over the debtor's objection because the claim was enforceable outside of bankruptcy. Even though the debtor had not made any payments directly to the creditor within the statute of limitations period, she had made payments to a credit counseling service, which directed payments to the creditor on the debtor's behalf.

Chapter 13 debtor's obligation to pay his ex-wife's car and mortgage payments was dischargeable pursuant to § 1328(a) and § 523(a)(15) because the parties did not intend the payments to serve as support, as demonstrated by the language of their divorce agreement and their tax treatment of the payments.

Court imposed sanctions on a bankruptcy petition preparer for violations of § 110, including failure to fully identify herself on various documents and unauthorized practice of law.

A debtor who transferred his interest in real property to his wife prepetition, could not claim an exemption in the property when his wife reconveyed the interest postpetition after a threat of avoidance by the trustee.

Robert F. Hershner, Jr. (Retired)

The movant and the respondent had represented the prepetition debtor in medical malpractice actions. The movant and the respondent had a fee sharing agreement. After the debtor filed for Chapter 7 relief, the bankruptcy trustee employed the respondent to prosecute the malpractice actions on behalf of the bankruptcy estate. After the malpractice action settled, the movant sought to enforce his fee sharing agreement with the respondent. The Court held that the movant had failed to show that he had rendered any prepetition or postpetition services for which he could be compensated by the bankruptcy estate. The Court held that the movant's contention that the respondent had breached their fee sharing agreement should be resolved in state court.

A state court ordered the debtor to pay criminal restitution of $112,450 for damages to the creditor's property. The court held that under binding circuit court precedent, the debtor's obligation was non-dischargable under § 523(a)(7).

Court granted stay relief for creditor to pursue employment related claims against the debtor and co-defendants in district court to prevent duplicitous litigation and to protect the rights of all the parties.

Chief Judge John T. Laney, III

Plaintiff filed complaint against Defendant in Superior Court alleging breaches of fiduciary duty under Georgia Partnership law. Defendant removed to bankruptcy court. Trustee intervened in Superior Court and filed answer and counterclaim. Trustee issued a bill of sale to the Defendant transferring any interest in business partnership to Defendant. Defendant erroneously believed this to automatically substituted him for the Trustee. Defendant failed to file an answer or other response within 10 days; thus, Defendant was in default. The "good cause" standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) governs whether a clerk.s entry of default should be set aside. The four factor test is (1) whether the defaulting party took prompt action to vacate the default; (2) whether the defaulting party provides a plausible excuse for the default; (3) whether the defaulting party presents a meritorious defense; and (4) whether the party not in default will be prejudiced if the default is set aside. Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. v. Sanyo Electric, Inc., 33 B.R. 996, 1001 (N.D. Ga. 1983), aff.d, 742 F.2d 1465 (11th Cir. 1984). In this case, Defendant failed to satisfy the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th factors. Therefore, the motion to reconsider order striking Defendant.s untimely answer was denied.

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