by
Under Section 506(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, delivery and setup costs should not be included in the valuation of a retained mobile home in a Chapter 13 proceeding. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy action where the bankruptcy plan allowed her to retain her mobile home and pay 21st Mortgage the secured value (plus 5% interest) over the life of the plan. The court held that, in light of the statutory requirements and the Supreme Court's determination that the "proposed disposition or use" of collateral is crucial to its valuation, delivery and setup costs must not be included in the valuation of a retained mobile home under section 506(a). Therefore, the court held that the delivery and setup costs should not be included in debtor's mobile home valuation. View "21st Mortgage Corp. v. Glenn" on Justia Law

by
In this consolidated appeal from adversary proceedings challenging an alleged diversion of funds to which Peaje Investments LLC (Peaje) claimed it was entitled, the First Circuit held that Peaje did not hold a statutory lien on certain toll revenues of the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (Authority). The Authority and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico commenced bankruptcy cases under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, 48 U.S.C. 2101-2241. Peaje, the beneficial owner of $65 million of uninsured bonds issued by the Authority, instituted adversary proceedings alleging that its bonds were secured by a lien on certain Authority toll revenues and that the Authority and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico were diverting funds to which Peaje was entitled under the lien and using them for purposes other than paying the bonds. The First Circuit affirmed the Title III court’s primary grounds for its order denying Peaje’s request for a preliminary injunction and relief from the stay and otherwise vacated and remanded the matter, holding (1) Peaje did not hold a statutory lien on Authority toll revenues; and (2) now that it is clear that Peaje has no statutory lien, the district court’s alternative reasons for denying relief should be reconsidered de novo on an updated record. View "Peaje Investments LLC v. Puerto Rico Highways & Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying the request for relief from a stay of actions against PREPA sought by holders of revenue bonds issued by PREPA (the bondholders), holding that the district court erred in concluding that the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) sections 305 and 306, 48 U.S.C. 2165, 2166, precluded it from granting such relief. PREPA filed for bankruptcy under Title III of PROMESA, which triggered an automatic stay of most actions by creditors against PREPA. The bondholders, who accused PREPA of breaching a promise to seek a rate increase sufficient to cover debt payments, of failing to collect on customer accounts, and of mismanaging operations, asked for relief from the automatic stay in order to file suit to have a receiver appointed to manage PREPA and seek a rate increase sufficient to cover debt servicing. The Title III court denied the bondholders’ request for relief from the automatic stay. The First Circuit vacated the court’s order and remanded the matter for further proceedings, holding (1) the court erred in concluding that PROMESA sections 305 and 306 prohibited it from granting relief; and (2) the record was inadequate to find support upon which to rest the Title III court’s finding that “cause” did not exist under 11 U.S.C. 362(d)(1) to lift the stay. View "Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) v. Ad Hoc Group of PREPA Bondholders" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's affirmance of the bankruptcy court's judgment, holding appellants liable for a non-dischargeable judgment stemming from appellee's fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and common law fraud claims. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that there was no error in the bankruptcy court's conclusion that appellee's injuries were not only foreseeable, but directly attributable and proximately caused by Appellant Saenz's misrepresentations. Furthermore, the court could not say that the bankruptcy court clearly erred in rendering its non-dischargeable judgment or that the district court erred in affirming the bankruptcy court. View "Saenz v. Gomez" on Justia Law

by
Lester and William Lee created LIA in 1974 as a public company. William’s sons (Lester's nephews) later joined the business. LIA subsequently bought out the public shareholders, leaving Lester owning 516 shares; William owned 484. William created the Trust to hold his shares. The nephews served as trustees. Lester encountered difficulties with another company he owned, Maxim. He proposed that Maxim merge with LIA; William rejected this idea. Lester told the nephews, “I will screw you at every opportunity,” and made other threats, then, as majority shareholder, approved a merger of LIA and another company. The Trust asserted its rights under Indiana’s Dissenters’ Rights Statute. Lester gutted LIA to prevent the Trust from collecting the value of its LIA shares. He bought property from LIA on terms favorable to him and realized substantial profits. LIA subsidiaries were transferred for little or no consideration to Lester’s immediate family. Lester also perpetrated a collusive lawsuit, resulting in an agreed judgment that all LIA assets should be transferred to him and his companies. Lester did not disclose these actions to the nephews. In 2008, the Jennings Circuit Court conducted an appraisal in the dissenters’ rights action. Between the trial and the judgment, Lester dissolved LIA. The court entered a $7,522,879.73 judgment for the Trust. In 2012, Lester petitioned for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Trust initiated a successful adversary proceeding to pierce LIA’s corporate veil and hold Lester personally liable for the judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting the facts were undisputed. View "William R. Lee Irrevocable Trust v. Lee" on Justia Law

by
The DOL obtained a pre-bankruptcy judgment against debtor, providing that debtor breached his fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The DOL filed an adversary proceeding in debtor's Chapter 7 bankruptcy to have that judgment debt declared nondischargeable as a debt for defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(4). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the DOL. The court held that debtor had fiduciary obligations regarding the funds that had been withheld from wages for payment to HealthPartners. The court also held that the undisputed facts and unchallenged factual findings supported the conclusion that debtor committed defalcation in late March 2009 when he chose to use plan assets to pay himself and other corporate expenses instead of remitting those assets to HealthPartners. View "U.S. Department of Labor v. Harris" on Justia Law

by
Both the text of the bankruptcy statute and precedent support the conclusion that homestead proceeds that debtors acquire post-petition generally revest in them upon voluntary dismissal of their Chapter 13 case. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the disbursement of proceeds from the sale of a homestead. In this case, debtors sold their Texas homestead and did not use the sale proceeds to purchase another home. The bankruptcy court determined that debtors were entitled to the return of the homestead proceeds because they voluntarily dismissed their case, but the district court concluded that the proceeds should remain with the trustee for distribution to creditors in the dismissed bankruptcy proceeding. The court affirmed the district court's judgment regarding debtors' motion to dismiss and the trustee's motion to modify. Finally, the court reinstated the bankruptcy court's order directing the trustee to return the homestead proceeds to debtors. View "Viegelahn v. Lopez" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Fifth Third in an action brought by plaintiffs, alleging that the bank foreclosed on a property in violation of the automatic stay imposed during Plaintiff Ricardo's Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The court held that plaintiffs were judicially estopped from claiming a stay violation because Ricardo failed to amend his bankruptcy schedules to disclose the quitclaim deed or his putative claims against Fifth Third. Likewise, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. Finally, plaintiffs failed to show that the district court abused its discretion in excluding several of their exhibits. View "Fornesa v. Fifth Third Mortgage Co." on Justia Law

by
The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's judgement revoking debtor's discharge. The panel held that the bankruptcy court did not clearly err in finding that debtor knowingly and fraudulently failed to surrender his income tax refunds to the trustee. In this case, the bankruptcy court's view that the evidence demonstrated that debtor acted knowingly and fraudulently was permissible, even assuming debtor's view was also permissible. The panel held that debtor's remaining arguments did not persuade it otherwise. View "Velde v. Thiel" on Justia Law

by
In this consolidated bankruptcy appeal, two law firms challenged the bankruptcy court's order approving a settlement for an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the appeals, holding that the firms forfeited their objection to the settlement agreement because neither firm explicitly objected to the settlement or entered an appearance. Furthermore, the evidence on the record regarding the bankruptcy court and trustee's understanding that the firms were implicitly objecting was not clear enough to overcome such failures. The panel assumed without deciding that the law firms' challenge should be reviewed for plain error, rather than dismissed without reaching the merits, and found that the bankruptcy court did not err in approving the settlement agreement. View "Reid and Hellyer, APC v. Laski" on Justia Law