Judge Timothy A. Barnes - Opinions

Judge Timothy A. Barnes

17bk18780
On a chapter 13 debtor’s claim objection seeking a determination from the court of the nature, validity and amount of a tax purchaser’s claim in a chapter 13 case where the deadline to redeem the property taxes in question expired prepetition but no tax deed has been issued or recorded and also upon the tax purchaser’s objection to the confirmation of the debtor’s chapter 13 plan, held:
 
The tax purchaser has a perfected in rem claim for the statutory redemption amount that exists irrespective of whether the redemption period has passed.  That claim is allowed as a secured claim in the amount asserted by the tax purchaser.  The tax purchaser also has a contingent, unperfected in rem claim for the fair market value of the property in question that exists irrespective of whether the redemption period has passed.  The court estimates for the purpose of allowance that this unperfected in rem claim is in the amount asserted by the tax purchaser, the property’s full fair market value as of the petition date, less that amount of perfected in rem claim for the redemption amount.  Such unperfected in rem interest is, however, unsecured, by operation of 11 U.S.C. § 506(a) and because it is subject to the trustee’s avoidance power as a hypothetical lien creditor.  The resulting allowed unsecured claim must be treated in the debtor’s plan.  The debtor’s objection is, therefore, SUSTAINED IN PART AND OVERRULED IN PART.
 
The confirmation objection fails in its attempt to have this court change its prior published legal conclusions regarding the treatment of tax purchaser claims after the passing of the redemption period but before the issuance of a tax deed.  However, as the tax purchaser’s claim as determined and allowed by the court is not fully addressed in the debtor’s plan, the confirmation objection is SUSTAINED in that limited respect only.

19bk00432
Upon the motion to dismiss brought by a creditor, alleging that the debtor filed a second petition for bankruptcy in violation of a court order that dismissed the debtor’s first bankruptcy case with prejudice, held: The dismissal of the debtor’s first case under bad faith grounds precluded the debtor from filing for relief at the time it filed its second petition. The motion is, therefore, GRANTED.

 

08bk10095
Upon a motion seeking enforcement of this court’s confirmation order and damages arising from the alleged violation by the debtors’ prepetition surety, filed by successor to the purchaser of assets in the above-captioned bankruptcy cases, the court having previously determined that the surety violated the injunction and release set forth in the court’s confirmation order and the debtors’ plan, and after a trial to determine damages, held: The movant has established that it is entitled to damages stemming from the surety’s repeated pursuit of claims against the movant in the state court.  The court, therefore, awards actual damages for reduced property value, legal costs, consulting costs and project management costs.  The court declines to award punitive damages.  The motion remains GRANTED and this decision concludes the motion.

08bk10095
Upon the Motion for Entry of an Order (I) Enforcing Confirmation Order; (II) Awarding Damages; and (III) Granting Related Relief, brought by assignee of personal property administered by the liquidating trust in the above-captioned bankruptcy cases, held: The movant has established that it is a party protected by the release in the confirmation order entered in the case and that the claims brought in the state court actions are attempts by the surety to recapture losses stemming from the debtors’ released liability.  The motion is, therefore, GRANTED in part, as set forth in the attached Memorandum Decision.  A separate hearing on damages will follow.

16bk01335, 16ap00141
On cross motions for summary judgment concerning the validity as a matter of law of the debtor/defendant’s lack of authority defense, wherein the debtor/defendant alleged that the plaintiff LLC lacked standing as the authority of the plaintiff’s lender to manage and thus cause the plaintiff to file its complaint had expired under the applicable statute of limitations, held: Statutes of limitations bar specific legal remedies by creating an affirmative defense to a time-barred action, but statutes of limitation are neither self-executing nor dispositive of the parties’ underlying rights.
Further, a security agreement or mortgage is incident to the underlying debt for limitations purposes and the security remains enforceable so long as the debt remains unpaid and enforceable. As such, the lender’s authority to manage the LLC was unaffected and the debtor/defendant’s affirmative defense fails as a matter of law. The debtor/defendant’s motion is, therefore, DENIED and the plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED.

In re Larry Shelton
September 14, 2018

17bk35941
Upon an objection to a chapter 13 plan brought by the standing chapter 13 trustee assigned to the matter, wherein the trustee asserted that the plan’s reduction of payments to secured creditors in order to allow debtor’s counsel fees to be paid earlier in the case both violated the express requirements of the Bankruptcy Code and was not proposed in good faith, held: The plan’s treatment of secured creditors violates the express prohibition in the Bankruptcy Code against such treatment. As a result, the plan is not confirmable. Further, such improper treatment benefits counsel alone and does not treat the debtor or the debtor’s other creditors fairly. As a result, the plan has not been proposed in good faith and is not confirmable. The trustee’s objection is sustained and confirmation of the plan is denied.

15bk33812, 16ap00511
Upon a complaint under 11 U.S.C. § 727, wherein denial of the debtor’s discharge is sought for the debtor making false oaths, namely denial of prior ownership of real property, tools and employment at the meeting under 11 U.S.C. § 341, held: While the plaintiff fails to establish the required elements of 11 U.S.C. § 727 in relation to the tools and employment, the plaintiff has carried his burden regarding the prior ownership of the real property. As a result, the debtor’s discharge is denied.

16bk30240, 17ap00064
Upon the administrator of a decedent estate’s complaint for determination of nondischargeability of debt pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4) and objection to the debtor’s discharge under alternative grounds in 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(3), (a)(4)(D), (a)(5) and (a)(6)(A), held: the plaintiff has demonstrated that the debtor breached her fiduciary duty and embezzled funds from the decedent.  The debt due to the plaintiff is, therefore, nondischargeable.  The plaintiff has also proven that the debtor has failed to satisfy her duty to provide records of her financial condition and has failed to satisfactorily explain the loss of the large amount of funds that the debtor received from the decedent’s bank account.  As a result, the debtor will be denied a discharge in her bankruptcy case.  Judgment is entered in favor of the plaintiff on both counts of the complaint.

15bk31790, 16ap00004
Upon the adversary plaintiff’s complaint for determination of nondischargeability of debt pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A), held: the plaintiff has failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the debtor owed a debt to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff also failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged debt was obtained through false pretenses, false representation, or actual fraud.  As a result, the debtor will not be denied a discharge of the alleged debt.  Judgment is entered in favor of the debtor on the complaint.

16bk09485
Upon a debtor’s motion for rule to show cause on alleged violations of the automatic stay, held: The debtor has established the requisite grounds for relief arising from the alleged stay violations only as it relates to creditor’s postconversion conduct. The creditor, the debtor’s preconversion bankruptcy counsel, did not violate the automatic stay by attempting to collect on unpaid postpetition fees in another forum during the pendency of the matter prior to conversion. Upon conversion to chapter 13, however, the preconversion fees were treated as prepetition ones and thus the continuation of the collection action violated the automatic stay. The motion is, therefore, GRANTED in part, DENIED in part and CONTINUED in part for a later hearing on additional actual damages.

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