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Hernandez filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in December 2016, reporting one sizable asset: a pending workers’ compensation claim valued at $31,000. To place that claim beyond the reach of creditors, she listed it as exempt under section 21 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305/21, applicable via 11 U.S.C. 522(b). Two days after filing for bankruptcy, Hernandez settled the claim. Hernandez owed significant sums to three healthcare providers who treated her work-related injuries. The providers objected to her claimed exemption, arguing that 2005 amendments to the Illinois Act enable unpaid healthcare providers to reach workers’ compensation awards and settlements. The bankruptcy court denied the exemption and the district judge affirmed. The Seventh Circuit certified to the Illinois Supreme Court the question: Whether the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, as amended, allows care-provider creditors to reach the proceeds of workers’ compensation claims. The court noted that Section 21 has been interpreted by bankruptcy courts to create an exemption for these assets; 2005 amendments imposed a new fee schedule and billing procedure for care providers seeking remuneration. The Illinois Supreme Court has not addressed the interplay between these competing components of state workers’ compensation law. View "Hernandez v. Marque Medicos Fullerton, LLC" on Justia Law

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Chicago makes a car’s owner, rather than its driver, liable for many fines, including those for speeding, running a red light, and illegal parking. After their Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plans were confirmed, the seven debtors incurred, and failed to pay, at least 72 fines aggregating almost $12,000. The debtors argued that a Chapter 13 plan does not provide for the payment of post-petition fines and that the automatic stay of 11 U.S.C. 362 prevented their cars from being towed or booted. The bankruptcy court ordered that the vehicles were the property of the estate for the duration of the payment plan. Reversing the order, the Seventh Circuit noted that the holding could be seen as permission to violate traffic laws with the fines never to be paid. The court noted that, while a Chapter 13 petition transfers most of the debtor’s assets to the bankruptcy estate, upon the confirmation of a payment plan, 11 U.S.C. 1327(b) presumptively returns that property to the debtor, who becomes personally responsible for the expenses of maintaining the property. The bankruptcy court gave no explanation for departing from that scheme. View "City of Chicago v. Marshall" on Justia Law

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U.C.C. 9-319(a), which grants a consignee "rights and title to the goods," also grants the consignee an interest in the proceeds of those goods that were generated prior to bankruptcy. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy appellate panel's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's grant of summary judgment for the bankruptcy trustee who brought an adversary proceeding seeking avoidance of transfers. Under settled bankruptcy law, if a consignee files for bankruptcy, any consigned "goods" in its possession become property of the bankruptcy estate unless the seller has previously provided public notice of its interest in the goods (normally by filing a document known as a "financing statement") and thereby "perfected" its interest. The panel held that this rule also extended to the proceeds from goods sold that are held by the consignee on the date it files for bankruptcy. View "IPC (USA), Inc. v. Ellis" on Justia Law

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Oakes filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in 2013, including Franklin, Ohio real property, valued at $160,000. PNC holds a mortgage lien on the property, which was filed in 2003. That mortgage lien was not executed in accordance with the Ohio law; Oakes’ signatures were not acknowledged before a notary public. In 2013, Ohio Rev. Code 1301.401(C) was enacted, providing that “Any person contesting the validity or effectiveness of any transaction referred to in a public record is considered to have discovered that public record and any transaction referred to in the record as of the time that the record was first filed with the secretary of state or tendered to a county recorder for recording.” The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee sought to avoid the PNC mortgage because it was not properly recorded. In the meantime, the Ohio Supreme Court held that O.R.C. 1301.401 applied to all recorded mortgages and acts to provide constructive notice of a recorded mortgage, even if that mortgage was deficiently executed. The bankruptcy court denied PNC’s motion for judgment, finding that the statutory constructive notice had no effect on a trustee’s avoidance powers as a judicial lien creditor. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel and Sixth Circuit affirmed. A bankruptcy trustee may avoid a deficiently executed mortgage when acting as a judicial lien creditor. View "Harker v. PNC Mortgage Co." on Justia Law

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In 2010, Kermit Jackson filed a complaint against Jennifer Crow arising from a 2008 automobile collision. No substantive action took place in the trial court until 2016 when Crow moved for summary judgment. In the interim, Crow filed for bankruptcy in 2014 listing Jackson as a potential unsecured creditor with a claim of unknown value. Jackson filed a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court and eventually received his pro rata share of the distribution of Crow’s assets. Crow received a bankruptcy discharge in 2014, releasing her from personal liability on the claim. Afterwards, Jackson proposed to move forward with this case against Crow as a nominal defendant, seeking to secure a judgment in order to recover from Crow’s insurer, rather than Crow personally. Crow’s motion for summary judgment argued that: (1) allowing Jackson’s case to go forward against her violated the permanent discharge injunction of 11 U.S.C. secs. 524 and 727; (2) even if this procedure did not violate the Bankruptcy Code’s permanent injunction, naming her as a nominal defendant was (a) not permitted by Idaho case law, the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure, and Idaho’s no-direct-action rule, and (b) violated the Bankruptcy Code’s policy of providing her a financial “fresh start.” In a case of first impression, the district court ruled in favor of Crow, reasoning that allowing the case to proceed against Crow would violate 11 U.S.C. 524 by impermissibly causing negative economic consequences for Crow. The district court further reasoned that allowing Jackson to proceed directly against Crow’s insurer would violate the no-direct-action rule and permitting Jackson to proceed against Crow nominally was not permitted by the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure or this Court’s precedent. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in granting Crow summary judgment: the district court misapplied the no-direct-action rule in this case. The judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Jackson v. Crow" on Justia Law

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After a settlement in his divorce proceeding, Debtor filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Debtor was subsequently confined to jail for failure to pay the court-approved settlement. Debtor filed an adversary complaint seeking damages under 11 U.S.C. 362(k) for violations of the automatic stay by his former wife, Skurko, and her attorney, Gentile, by allowing the post-petition sentencing portion of a pre-petition contempt proceeding to continue despite knowing that the automatic stay was in effect. The bankruptcy court found no violation because the two did not take affirmative action post-petition to try to collect the debt, and there was no affirmative action they could take to prevent the domestic relations judge from jailing Debtor for nonpayment because the contempt motion was already ruled upon. The Sixth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reversed. Upon the filing of Debtor’s bankruptcy, it was incumbent upon Gentile and Skurko to seek relief from the stay or to obtain a bankruptcy court determination that the stay did not apply. A creditor cannot sit idly by, appear at a collection proceeding, and allow the debtor to be jailed because he did not pay the judgment creditor’s dischargeable debt. The burden was on the creditor and her attorney to stop the proceeding once the bankruptcy was filed. View "In re Lawrence Wohleber, Jr." on Justia Law

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In 2006 Trinity borrowed about $2 million from a bank, secured by a mortgage. The bank sold the note and mortgage to ColFin, which relied on Midland to collect the payments. In 2013, Midland recorded a “satisfaction,” stating that the loan had been paid and the mortgage released. The loan was actually still outstanding. Trinity continued paying. In 2015, ColFin realized Midland’s mistake and recorded a document canceling the satisfaction. Trinity stopped paying. ColFin filed a state court foreclosure action. Trinity commenced a bankruptcy proceeding, which stayed the foreclosure, then filed an adversary action against ColFin, contending that the release extinguished the debt and security interest. The bankruptcy court, district court, and Seventh Circuit rejected that argument and an argument that the matter was moot because the property had been sold under the bankruptcy court’s auspices. There is a live controversy about who should get the sale proceeds; 11 U.S.C. 363(m), which protects the validity of the sale, does not address the disposition of the proceeds. Under Illinois law, Trinity did not obtain rights from the 2013 filing, which was unilateral and without consideration; no one (including Trinity) detrimentally relied on the release, so ColFin could rescind it. ColFin caught the problem before Trinity filed its bankruptcy petition, so a hypothetical lien perfected on the date of the bankruptcy would have been junior to ColFin’s interest. View "Trinity 83 Development LLC v. Colfin Midwest Funding LLC" on Justia Law

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's order granting the Chapter 13 trustee's motion to dismiss debtor's bankruptcy case. The panel held that the record supported the trustee's contention that debtor did not satisfy the requirements of 11 U.S.C. 109(h) and thus could not be a debtor under the bankruptcy code. In this case, despite checking the box on her petition to represent she had received credit counseling within the 180 days before she filed her petition, debtor did not claim–much less offer any proof–she actually received such counseling within the time allowed. Petitioner failed to submit the required certification to obtain a temporary waiver of the credit counseling requirement due to exigent circumstances, and did not file the required request that the bankruptcy court determine she was unable to complete credit counseling due to incapacity, disability, or active military duty in a military combat zone. Finally, the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in barring debtor from refiling for 180 days. View "Marshall v. McCarty" on Justia Law

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's holding that 11 U.S.C. 1322(b)(2)'s anti-modification provision did not apply to the Paddock's claim in debtors' manufactured home. Debtors' plan proposed that The Paddock's secured claim in their manufactured home would be bifurcated into secured and unsecured parts. The panel held that the bankruptcy court did not clearly err in finding that the home did not meet Iowa's fixture test and was therefore not real property. In this case, the home sits on piers and blocks, and the bankruptcy court found nothing in the record to show The Paddock's intent to make the manufactured home a fixture. View "The Paddock, LLC v. Bennett" on Justia Law

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Anderson and Kaiser jointly borrowed about $700,000 from the Bank, secured by a mortgage. They did not pay; the Bank filed a foreclosure action in state court. That action was put on hold when Anderson commenced a bankruptcy proceeding. The Bank obtained relief from the automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. 362, to proceed with the foreclosure litigation. In state court, the Bank obtained approval to put the property up for auction. The sale was confirmed. The Bank then obtained a state court deficiency judgment against Kaiser; it did not appeal the omission of a deficiency judgment against Anderson. The state litigation ended in 2015. In the bankruptcy court, the Bank made a claim against Anderson for the same $650,000 shortfall that the state judge had awarded against Kaiser. On interlocutory appeal, the district court held that the absence of a deficiency judgment against Anderson in the state case blocks any further proceedings against him related to this loan. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, citing claim preclusion. The court rejected the Bank’s argument that the automatic bankruptcy stay deprived the state court of “jurisdiction” to make any decision at all, except to the extent allowed by the bankruptcy judge. View "BMO Harris Bank N.A. v. Anderson" on Justia Law