Judge Jacqueline P. Cox - Opinions

Judge Jacqueline P. Cox

19 B 07692
The court converted the Chapter 11 case filed by Debtor Royalty Properties, LLC to Chapter 7, finding that it was filed in bad faith as a litigation tactic to delay a mortgage foreclosure case filed 10 years ago.  The debt was incurred in 2006 to purchase its main asset, a 400-acre horse farm.  No payments were ever made on the debt. The court also found that the Debtor was using its creditors’ collateral to farm and sell hemp/hemp seeds, a new business for which it had no experience, not to reorganize an existing business. The Debtor and its principals unsuccessfully sued its creditors, including the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois, in state and federal courts many times before it filed for bankruptcy protection.  After the foreclosure case neared conclusion, two more lawsuits were filed against its creditors this year.

In re James Thigpen
April 20, 2019

17 B 10161
The Debtor James Thigpen maintained two Social Security numbers and made false statements to obtain Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits he was not entitled to.  He pleaded guilty and was convicted of embezzling money belonging to the United States.  The sentencing district judge required him to pay restitution to the government in the amount of $49,327.17 in increments of 10% of his net, monthly income.
Thigpen eventually qualified for and received Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance ("OASDI") benefits which he received for a period of time. The Social Security Administration, which administers each program under separate statutes, sought to retain 100% of his monthly OASDI benefit to satisfy the SSI overpayment debt.
Thigpen got a chapter 13 plan confirmed that provided payment of $6000 toward the restitution obligation during the plan's term.
The Court ruled that because the debts arose from separate government programs the recoupment doctrine and its exception from the automatic stay did not apply.  The Court ruled that setoff applied.  However, Bankruptcy Code Section 362(a)(7) provides that the automatic stay applies where setoff is available.  Courts have discretion to not permit setoff where it is unfair to do so, which is what the Court ruled in denying the government's motion for relief from the automatic stay to withhold 100% of Thigpen's monthly OASDI benefit to satisfy the SSI overpayment debt.

On remand from the district court, after a trial, findings were made regarding an Intervenor's assertion that she had been denied due process when she was not served in an adversary proceeding where trust assets were found to be part of a bankruptcy estate in 2010.  The court found that the Intervenor waived her objection because she waited too long to bring it up and by participating in the litigation through her agents, her brother, Richard Sharif, the Debtor, and her attorney, who she sued for legal malpractice for not asserting certain claims in the underlying matter.

16  B 17113, 17 A 00072
The court ruled in favor of the defendant on allegations that transfers made in satisfaction of merchant cash advance obligations were preferences or constructively fraudulent transfers.

15 B 43653, 16 A 206
The court denied the Debtor a discharge of her student loan debts, finding that she can maintain more than a minimal standard of living if forced to repay them.

17 B 36587, 17 A 00594
The Debtors took out a $2,200,000 loan from America's Wholesale Lender in 2006 to purchase real estate.  They executed both a note and a mortgage in connection therewith.  They failed to make payments starting in 2008.  The lender filed a mortgage foreclosure case against them in 2009 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.  In October, 2017 the state court entered a judgment of foreclosure in that case, ruling in favor of the lender on its motion for summary judgment, rejecting the Debtors' claim that because America's Wholesale Lender had not been incorporated before the documents were executed, the note and mortgage were null and void. The Debtors filed this chapter 11 bankruptcy case 7 weeks later on December 11, 2017.

The Debtors filed this adversary proceeding seeking to have the note and mortgage declared invalid for the same reasons asserted without success in state court.

The Lender filed a Motion to Dismiss the Adversary Proceeding which this court has granted with prejudice, applying the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and the court's authority to abstain as explained by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Jepson, 816 F.3d 942 , 948 (2016).

17 B 25141
In this case, the City of Chicago refused to turn over the debtor’s vehicle unless their claim was paid in full. The City’s claim was treated as unsecured in the confirmed plan; the City did not object to this treatment of its claim. The Debtor filed a motion to modify his confirmed plan to pay the City of Chicago in full as a compromise to get the City to release the vehicle. In this opinion, the court denied the motion to modify the plan and sanctioned the City for violating the automatic stay in violation of Thompson v. GMAC.The court ruled that the City did not have a possessory lien as provided for in its ordinance because the ordinance was inconsistent with Illinois law.

16 B 14713 Consolidated with 16 B 23020, 16 A 00707
The court found several debts nondischargeable where the debtor, an attorney, lied about and failed to repay clients' loans from settlement proceeds.

17 B 22517
The movants sought dismissal of this Chapter 11 case for cause alleging that the Debtor is an instrumentality of the Village of Lombard, and as such is not allowed to seek bankruptcy relief as a governmental unit.  The Debtor was incorporated by Lombard to construct and operate a hotel and convention center which has been managed under the Westin flag for several years. The court denied the motions to dismiss finding that Lombard did not control the Debtor and that the Debtor did not perform municipal functions, relying in part on an Illinois Appellate Court ruling denying the Debtor’s efforts seeking a tax exemption as a governmental body.

In re Demetrius Adger
September 20, 2017

17 B 20163
The issue was whether Debtor Adger's filing of a Chapter 13 case on July 5, 2017 at 6:26 p.m., rather than before 5 p.m. when the Cook County Clerk's office closed was filed timely  for purposes of allowing the debtor to treat a tax purchaser's claim over the life of a Chapter 13 plan.   The court analyzed  the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the Illinois Supreme Court's Electronic Filing Standards and Principles and our local Bankruptcy Court's Administrative Procedures for CM/ECF  that govern electronic filing. Generally those Rules and Standards provide that a document filed on the due date before midnight is timely filed.  The Amended Motion to Modify Automatic Stay was denied.