Opinions

The District of Northern Illinois offers a database of opinions for the years 1999 to 2013, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

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Judge Janet S. Baer

09 B 30029
Debtors’ financial advisor filed an application for compensation that included a request for a “restructuring fee” based on the percentage of indebtedness involved in any restructuring. Plan transferee objected to the restructuring fee because the restructuring that took place in the case was based on a third party’s plan. Plan transferee argued that the agreement regarding the restructuring fee was unclear and that parol evidence explained that the financial advisor was not entitled to the restructuring fee because the plan confirmed was neither the debtors’ plan nor the result of the financial advisor’s efforts. The District Court (who originally reviewed this matter on appeal after Summary Judgment ) found that the Retention Order, which was modified by the parties after the Engagement Letter was signed and submitted, made the agreement ambiguous and remanded for trial. The Court found the agreement as such was ambiguous and allowed the parties to introduce parol evidence. The Court found, however, that the parol evidence was confusing and unhelpful. It did nothing to clarify the ambiguity in the revised Retention Order regarding the terms under which the financial advisor would be entitled to the restructuring fee. Ultimately, the Court construed the ambiguity against the party responsible for creating the ambiguity - the plan transferee. The Court therefore found that the financial advisor was entitled to the restructuring fee.

12 B 35492, 12 A 01889
Pro se debtor Gabriela Carter commenced an adversary proceeding seeking to discharge her educational loan debt owed to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and Educational Credit Management Corporation pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8).  The issue addressed by the Court was whether the Debtor met the three-pronged Brunner test requiring her to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that paying the loans would cause “undue hardship.”  The Court found that the evidence demonstrated that the Debtor cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a minimal standard of living if forced to repay the student loans, thus satisfying the first prong of the test.  The Court also found, however, that the Debtor failed to present evidence of additional, exceptional circumstances indicating that the state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period.  Because the Debtor was not able to satisfy this second prong, the Court found that she did not meet her burden to prove that repayment of the loans would constitute an undue hardship under the statutory exception and held that the student loan debt is nondischargeable under § 523(a)(8).

Judge Jacqueline P. Cox

11 B 19428 (jointly administered)
In this post-confirmation Chapter 11 proceeding, the Reorganized Debtor filed a Motion to Enforce Confirmation Order and For the Imposition for Sanctions, arguing that notwithstanding the modified mortgage terms set forth in its Confirmed Plans, Everhome Mortgage continued to bill the Reorganized Debtor for prepetition mortgage debt without making changes to the principal amount, new interest rate, new amortization period or new borrower name.

    The Court granted the Motion, finding that Everhome’s refusal to conform its payment coupons and loan files to the economic terms of the Confirmed Plans some 15 months after confirmation, were done in blatant disregard of bankruptcy law and the terms of the Reorganized Debtor’s Plans.  The Court determined that Everhome’s conduct warranted the imposition of sanctions in the amount of $100,000 and ordered that Everhome pay the Reorganized Debtor $35,839 in attorneys' fees.

In re Arturo Vazquez
September 8, 2014

13 B 32174
In this Chapter 7 proceeding, the Debtor scheduled a 2013 federal tax refund in the amount of $10,576, of which he claimed $3,000 as an exempt public assistance benefit under 735 ILCS 5/12-1001(g)(1).

Trustee David Leibowitz objected, arguing that the child tax credit does not qualify as a “public assistance benefit” under the Illinois statute which allows debtors to exempt such.  In 2003 a bankruptcy court ruled that the nonrefundable portion of the child tax credit was not a public assistance benefit because it was available to higher income taxpayers and that the refundable additional child tax credit was a public assistance benefit that could be exempted because it benefited lower income taxpayers.  The Illinois statute does not limit or condition the exemption.

The Court overruled the Trustee’s objection, rejecting the argument that the Illinois statute was meant to benefit lower income individuals only and declined to make the policy choice that a debtor who claimed five personal exemptions/dependents on his tax return while reporting income of $68,824 was too affluent to benefit from the child tax credit.  The Illinois exemption statute provides for the exemption of public assistance benefits, without regard to whether they are refundable or are available only to lower income debtors. The Court explained that it is the role of the legislature, rather than the court, to limit the availability of the exemption.

Judge Timothy A. Barnes

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.

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.

Judge Donald R. Cassling

Judge Jack B. Schmetterer

14 B 02689

Judge Eugene R. Wedoff

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