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Opinions

Notice: Not all of the Judges Opinions will be made available on this site. Individual Judges have the option of specifying that all, some or none of their opinions be posted.

Judge Richard D. Taylor

Mortgaged property subject to a statutory foreclosure has not been sold sufficient to avoid the consequences of section 1322(c) until such time as the entire process is complete.  Regardless, cause may still exist to lift the automatic stay.

Judge Ben T. Barry

In this chapter 11 case, the court overruled a creditor’s objection to the debtor’s homestead exemption because the objection was untimely under Rule 4003(b)(1).  However, because the court found that the debtor’s contradictory statements on Schedule C had created uncertainty regarding the amount of the debtor’s homestead exemption, the court granted the creditor’s motion to compel the debtor to amend the schedule pursuant to Rule 1009(a).               

Here, the court overruled the chapter 7 trustee’s objection to the debtors’ amended exemptions.  The trustee argued that the debtors should not be permitted to amend their schedules to elect state exemptions after having previously elected federal exemptions to which the trustee had not objected.  However, the court found that Law v. Siegel and the unambiguous language of Rule 1009(a) authorized the debtors’ amendment to their exemptions.  The court also found that the debtors’ mobile home was part of their homestead under Arkansas law.  In addition, the court found that the creek that divided a portion of the acreage that the debtors claimed as their homestead was not navigable and therefore did not destroy the contiguous nature of the property.

In this case, the Court held that a state court judgment based on a jury verdict of negligence was nondischargeable under

§ 523(a)(6).  The Court found that neither res judicata nor collateral estoppel precluded the Court from considering whether the injury was willful and malicious.  However, the Court also found that the jury verdict did have a preclusive effect as to the amount of the debt owed by the debtor to the creditor.  

Here, the Court sustained the debtor’s objection to a 910-car creditor’s inclusion of post-petition attorney fees in its secured claim. The Court found that § 502(b) directs courts to determine the amount of a claim as of the date of the filing of the petition;

§ 1322(b) allows modification of pre-petition contractual rights; and no section of the bankruptcy code expressly permits post-petition attorney fees for a 910-car creditor.

Here, the court found that a state court jury had awarded the plaintiff punitive damages based upon fraud, making a determination of fraud essential to the state court judgment and satisfying the final element necessary for the court to apply collateral estoppel to the plaintiff’s cause of action under § 523(a)(2)(A).  As a result, the court found that the punitive damage award was nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A).  The court also found that a debt arising from the debtor’s embezzlement of the plaintiff’s vehicle was nondischargeable under § 523(a)(4).

In this case, the United States Trustee moved to dismiss the debtor’s chapter 7 case under § 707(b)(2) and § 707(b)(3).  Because the court found that the trustee had not calculated the debtor’s current monthly income in accordance with § 101(10A), the court denied the relief sought under § 707(b)(2).  After considering the totality of the circumstances of the debtor’s financial condition, including the debtor’s ability to pay her creditors, the court found that the granting of relief under chapter 7 would be an abuse of the provisions of the chapter and granted the trustee’s motion to dismiss under § 707(b)(3), subject to the debtor converting her case to a case under chapter 13 within 14 days.

Judge Phyllis M. Jones

Trustee’s objection to confirmation overruled.  In determining the amount unsecured creditors would receive in a hypothetical chapter 7 liquidation for purposes of the best interests of creditors test of Section 1325(a)(4), parties should consider: (1) the estimated costs of sale associated with liquidating each asset; (2) the estimated costs of administering the chapter 7 estate, including a chapter 7 trustee’s statutory fee; and (3) any other factors that may be appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

Court adopted the “causal connection approach” and found that the 180-day bar of Section 109(g)(2) applies when the creditor’s request for relief from stay resulted in the debtor seeking and obtaining a voluntary dismissal of his prior case.  In so ruling, the Court rejected the Debtor’s argument that the motion for relief from stay had to be pending at the time of dismissal of the prior case.

Denying motion for relief from stay under Section 362(d)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code.  Creditor met its burden of proving lack of equity in the Debtor’s residence, but Debtor met his burden of proving the residence was necessary for an effective reorganization.

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