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 Austin E. Carter

Motion to reopen case for the purpose of filing reaffirmation agreements denied on grounds of futility because such reaffirmation agreements, being executed after granting of discharge, would be unenforceable under 11 U.S.C. § 524(c).

The IRS filed a claim asserting priority status for the portion of its claim representing an exaction imposed (pursuant to I.R.C. § 72(t)) on account of a Debtor's early withdrawal from an IRA.  The Debtors objected that the exaction is not entitled priority by § 507(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code.  The IRS argued that the exaction was entitled to priority as a tax under § 507(a)(8)(A) or, alternatively, as a penalty in compensation of actual pecuniary loss under § 507(a)(8)(G).  The Court held that the exaction was not a tax because it was enacted primarily to deter early withdrawal of retirement funds rather than to support the government and, bearing no relation to any actual loss to the government, was accordingly a non-pecuniary-loss penalty not entitled to priority status.

Claim otherwise barred under Georgia statute of limitation not revived by O.C.G.A. § 9-3-112 because plan payments by trustee were not on behalf of Debtor as required by O.C.G.A. § 9-3-112 and Debtor's scheduling creditor's claim as undisputed and proposing plan that provides for full payment of all allowed unsecured claims not “unqualified admission” of liability required under Georgia law; in alternative, even if Debtor otherwise revived debt pursuant to Georgia law, revival constituted post-petition waiver by Debtor of estate's defense of statute of limitation, nullified by 11 U.S.C. § 558.

Debtor's motion for turnover of car repossessed prepetition after debtor’s default under Georgia title pawn transaction denied because debtor's admitted inability to redeem car prior to expiration of right of redemption under state law (as extended by 11 U.S.C. § 108(b)), requires postpetition extinction of debtor's rights in property under Georgia pawnshop law, and 11 U.S.C. § 1322 does not entitle debtor to retain possession of collateral no longer in estate and treat creditor’s claim as secured under plan.I

Wages garnished from Debtor held in custody of garnishment court at time of Debtor's filing case were property of estate because, where no judgment against garnishee has been entered, Georgia garnishment law cannot be read to extinguish garnishment defendant's ownership interests prior to distribution of such wages from garnishment court.

Judge John T. Laney, III

No extreme circumstances (bad faith) exception present in § 1112 to Debtor's right to convert from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, and, even if Debtor engaged in serious preconversion misconduct, such misconduct not sufficient to prevent conversion under Court's equitable powers where conversion not prejudicial to creditors or abuse of process.

The matter came before the Court on Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.  The motion sought dismissal of the Trustee’s complaint, whereby the Trustee brought various preference and fraudulent transfer claims. Defendants argued that dismissal was appropriate because the Trustee failed to adequately plead the factual allegations required to make out each of the claims listed in the complaint. According to Defendants, after stripping away the bare legal conclusions, the remaining allegations were insufficient to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.  The Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. The court granted the motion as to the Trustee’s 11 U.S.C. § 548 claims, finding that the transfer at issue occurred outside the statutory reach back period. Similarly, the Court granted the motion as to Trustee’s 11 U.S.C. § 544 and O.C.G.A. § 18-2-70 et seq., again finding the transfers at issue occurred outside the applicable reach back period. The Court denied the motion as the Trustee’s remaining claims.

The matter came before the Court on Motions for Summary Judgment (the “Motion”) filed by defendants McCalla Raymer, LLC (“McCalla”), SunTrust Bank and SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. (collectively “SunTrust”). The Complaint sought recovery for damages stemming from a botched 2010 foreclosure sale. After hearing oral argument on the motions the Court decided to grant the Defendants’ Motions as to: Count 3 – Judicial Estoppel; Count 4 – Equitable Subordination; Count 6 – Violation of Automatic Stay; Count 7(A)(3) – Fraud; Count 7(B) – Violation of Fair Debt Collections Practices Act; and Count 8 – Conversion. The Court denied Defendants’ Motions as to: Count 7(A)(1) – Wrongful foreclosure; Count 7(A)(2) – Tortious interference with property rights; and Count 9 – State law attorney fees under O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11.

Judge James P. Smith (Retired)

The debtor retained the plaintiff law firm to represent him and his company in state court litigation.  After the debtor ran up a sizeable amount of legal fees, the plaintiff advised that it would withdraw its representation and begin collection activity.  The debtor promised to pay the fees when he received his income tax refund.  After receiving the tax refund, the debtor did not pay it to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff sued the debtor and obtained a state court judgment of $104,000.  The bankruptcy court held that the debtor had fraudulently misrepresented the amount of his anticipated refund and that he had not yet received it.  The court held that the debtor’s debt was nondischargeable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A).

The debtor made a large estimated tax payment to the IRS and the Georgia Department of Revenue just prior to filing bankruptcy.  The Chapter 7 trustee demanded, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 542(a), that the debtor turn over the federal and state tax credits arising from the estimated tax payments.  The trustee alternatively asked for turn over of a portion of the tax returns based upon the percentage of tax payments made prepetition and postpetition.  The court held that the estimated tax credits were not subject to turn over because the only interest which the debtor had in the payments was the right to request a refund after filing her tax returns.  The court also held that tax refunds should, except in exceptional cases, be prorated based upon the number of calendar days before and after the petition date.