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

16 A 00223, 15 B 04436
Plaintiff Christopher Salgado filed an adversary complaint against debtor-defendant David E. Lenoci, II, seeking a determination that a state court judgment debt for battery is not dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).  Salgado alleged that Lenoci struck him in the face with a baseball bat during a fight, while Lenoci claimed that someone else struck Salgado with a bicycle kickstand.  At a bench trial, the Court admitted various documents into evidence and heard the testimony of Salgado, his brother, and Lenoci.  After considering the evidence and testimony, the Court determined that the doctrine of issue preclusion did not bar Lenoci from disputing that he struck Salgado because: (1)  Lenoci did not have a full and fair opportunity to be heard in the prior criminal and civil state court cases that arose from the same facts, and (2) the records from the prior suits lacked specific findings as to which issues had been actually litigated and determined.  Turning to the merits of Salgado’s § 523(a)(6) claim, the Court found that Salgado and his brother were more credible than Lenoci.  Thus, the Court accepted Salgado’s version of the story and found both that Lenoci injured Salgado and that Lenoci’s actions were willful and malicious.  Accordingly, the Court concluded that the state court judgment debt was not dischargeable under § 523(a)(6).

18 B 13481, 18 A 00212
Debtor George Burciaga filed an adversary complaint against chapter 7 trustee Alex D. Moglia, seeking a determination that certain severance pay is not property of the estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1) but, rather, constitutes excluded post-petition earnings under 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(6). The parties subsequently filed cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. The Debtor argued that the severance pay is not property of the estate because his receipt of that pay was contingent on his execution of a separation agreement and his subsequent compliance with the post-petition conditions outlined therein. The Trustee argued that the severance pay is property of the estate because it is based on both the Debtor’s pre-petition employment and pre-petition termination from that employment. Applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s "sufficiently-rooted test" in Segal v. Rochelle, 382 U.S. 375 (1966), the Court found that the severance pay is both pre-petition property of the bankruptcy estate and post-petition earnings for services excluded therefrom and concluded that a fair allocation of the pay between the estate and the Debtor is 50/50. As such, the Court granted in part and denied in part both parties’ motions for judgment on the pleadings.

Judge Jacqueline P. Cox

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.

Judge Timothy A. Barnes

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.


Judge LaShonda A. Hunt

Secured creditor objected to confirmation of debtor’s Chapter 13 plan, requiring supplemental language be included in Section 8.1 to address claims treated in Section 3.1 of the plan. Although the debtor eventually amended the plan as requested, the court held that the creditor’s proposed language was inconsistent with the requirements of 11 U.S.C. 1325(a) and therefore the plan could not be confirmed.

Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar

In re Bruno Ranieri
March 29, 2019

15 B 20765

Judge Donald R. Cassling

Judge Jack B. Schmetterer