Judge Timothy A. Barnes - Opinions / Outlines

Judge Timothy A. Barnes

11 B 41555, 13 A 01243

Upon certain defendants’ motions to dismiss the Trustee’s fraudulent conveyance adversary complaint on statute of limitations grounds, the Trustee argues that it may rely on such longer statute of limitations as may be applicable to the IRS as an actual prepetition creditor of the bankruptcy estate.  In response, a limited number of the moving defendants jointly move for an order disallowing the IRS’s claim.
 
In considering the foregoing, held:  With respect to the motion to disallow the claim, adversary defendants qua adversary defendants lack standing to object to claims.  As such, the joint motion to disallow is DENIED.
 
With respect to the motions to dismiss, for the purposes of testing the sufficiency of the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), transfers occurring more than 2 years prior to the petition date are time-barred under section 548 of the Bankruptcy Code and the motions to dismiss will be GRANTED in this respect.  As to the remaining grounds, the court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true, wherein the Trustee has alleged that the IRS is a prepetition creditor of the bankruptcy estate.  That allegation is supported by the actual claim on file by the IRS at the commencement of the adversary.  As the trustee may act within the statute of limitations applicable to any creditor of the estate, including such longer statutes as apply to the IRS, and as the transfers sought to be avoided by the Trustee appear to fall within those longer periods, the court finds for these purposes that the Trustee’s actions are not conclusively time-barred.  The motions to dismiss are therefore DENIED in this respect.  The legal and factual predicates of the defendants’ statute of limitations affirmative defense, including, but not limited to, whether the IRS had an allowable claim against the estate on the petition date, remain issues to be determined on summary judgment or at trial, not in the limited scope of a motion to dismiss, and such arguments are preserved.
 

11 B 00701, 11 A 00966
Upon the Creditor’s commenced adversary complaint against Debtor seeking a determination that a debt allegedly owed by the Debtor to the Creditor is nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) and (a)(6), wherein the Creditor alleged that the debtor obtained title insurance policies through false pretenses, false representation and/or actual fraud, and that the underlying loan from the bank, which debt was assigned to the Creditor, was also obtained through false pretenses, false representation and/or actual fraud, held: The Debtor is obligated on both debts to the Creditor, and the Creditor proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the debts were incurred by false pretenses, false representations and actual fraud. As a result, the debts are nondischargeable.

13 B 27271
Upon the court’s issuance, sua sponte, of an order to show cause as to why the bankruptcy case of debtor Violeta Jakovljevic-Ostojic should not be dismissed for cause pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 707(a), held: the Debtor’s actions demonstrate a lack of good faith in filing this case and have resulted in an unreasonable delay that is prejudicial to creditors. The court therefore dismisses this case pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 707(a).

11 B 38875, 12 A 00155

Upon the Debtor’s motion to vacate the court’s summary judgment order, held:  The Debtor failed to establish sufficient grounds under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 or 60 to set aside or modify this court’s previous grant of summary judgment based, in part, on a state court judgment.  Further, the Debtor failed to show that a transfer of personal property made in alleged satisfaction of the state court judgment, but made prior to the Debtor entering into the judgment, satisfied the judgment for purposes of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5).  The court therefore denies the Debtor’s motion to vacate.

In re Kent Allen Woods
August 18, 2014

13 B 39194
Upon the Motion of Leticia Zaragoza for Relief from the Automatic Stay Pending Arbitration, brought by Leticia Zaragoza (the “Movant”), held:  The Movant has failed to demonstrate cause for relief from stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(d).  The Movant’s assertion that the Chicago Board of Trade (the “CBOT”) is better suited to determine the Movant’s claim against the bankruptcy estate is not supported by the arguments of the parties.  Further, the Movant’s assertion that a claim against the Debtor arising out of a pending arbitration matter before the CBOT is outside this court’s constitutional authority under the reasoning of Stern v. Marshall is inapposite to the actual holding of Stern and is not well taken.  Nothing within Stern’s holding stands for the proposition that this court may not determine the propriety of a claim asserted against the bankruptcy estate.  Such a function lies at the heart of bankruptcy jurisdiction, and is squarely within this court’s authority.  The court therefore denies the Movant’s request, without prejudice to the Movant’s ability to reassert the request, if appropriate, should the circumstances underlying the request have changed materially.

 

12 B 49658
Upon the Motion for Allowance of Secured Claim and Turnover of Collateral Proceeds, brought by United Central Bank (“UCB”), and the Cross Motion for Partial Turnover of Proceeds of Sales, brought by the Illinois Department of Revenue (“IDOR”), to determine the higher priority claim in the proceeds from a section 363 sale, held: UCB is entitled to a claim secured in the entire amount of the proceeds of the sale.  IDOR has secured, priority unsecured and general unsecured claims, all of which are lower in priority to UCB’s secured claim.  IDOR’s right to assert transferee liability is an “interest” for purposes of a section 363(f) sale, potentially entitling IDOR to adequate protection under section 363(e).  As IDOR’s interest is, however, subordinate to that of UCB’s secured claim and IDOR’s claim is therefore “out of the money,” there is no harm from which IDOR is entitled to protection.  The court therefore grants UCB’s request for allowance of secured claims and turnover of collateral proceeds and denies the IDOR’s request for partial turnover.

13 B 31265
Upon the Construction and General Laborers’ District Council of Chicago and Vicinity’s and the Laborers’ Pension and Welfare Funds’ objection to the Debtor’s application pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1113 to reject all collective bargaining agreements to which it was a party, held:  The Debtor, having sold substantially all of its assets prior to commencing bankruptcy, has demonstrated sufficiently that rejection of all collective bargaining agreements is necessary for a valid “reorganization,” as that term must be interpreted in section 1113 in a liquidating chapter 11 case.  The court therefore grants the Debtor’s motion to reject  its collective bargaining agreements.

10 B 44866, 13 A 01048
Petitioners, as trustees for a family trust created by the debtor, move for abstention or remand of an Illinois state court proceeding to dissolve the family trust that had been previously removed to this court by the chapter 7 trustee. The chapter 7 trustee, in turn, seeks a determination from this court that the state court proceeding is void, as the proceeding was commenced after the commencement of the bankruptcy case and without relief from the automatic stay. Held: While the dissolution of a trust against which an estate has a claim may not violate the automatic stay, per se, under the facts of this case, a stay violation did occur. While the state court, not this court, is the proper tribunal with authority to order the dissolution of the family trust, the state court proceeding is invalid as having been commenced in violation of the automatic stay and the request for abstention or remand is therefore moot.

10 B 44866, 13 A 00631
After the trustee filed a motion for default judgment against one of multiple adversary defendants for failure to file a timely answer in response to an amended complaint, the defendant filed two answers; one to the original complaint and another one to the amended complaint. The trustee moved for the court to strike both answers as untimely and filed without leave or excuse. The bankruptcy court held that: (i) the defendant failed to file an answer within the prescribed time period; (ii) the defendant failed to challenge service in its first responsive pleading and thus has waived the defense of insufficient service; (iii) the defendant failed to show that its untimely answer is excusable pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9006(b)(1); (iv) the answers will therefore be stricken; (v) service of the motion for default judgment satisfies the due process requirement; and (vi) after having held three hearings on the motion for default judgment and having stricken the answers, it is proper to enter a default judgment against the defendant. Accordingly, the court grants both of the trustee’s motions.

In re Debra West
March 26, 2014

13 B 28123
The Chapter 7 trustee filed an objection to the exemption that the debtor claimed in her interest in her former husband’s retirement plan pursuant to section 12-1006 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. The parties disagreed on whether the debtor had the right to obtain the funds for her immediate consumption. The debtor argued, alternatively, that the retirement plan was excluded from the bankruptcy estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(c)(2). Held: The debtor’s interest in the retirement plan is property of the estate. However, the debtor satisfied the requirements for exemption under Illinois law. The debtor’s ability to take an immediate distribution did not defeat the retirement nature of the retirement plan, as the distribution is to be made pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order in a way as to preserve the retirement nature of the funds. The court therefore overrules the trustee’s objection to the claimed exemption.

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