Justia Bankruptcy Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia
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Summary judgment was awarded to Fulton County, Georgia on Sandra Ward-Poag’s civil whistleblower claims on the ground of judicial estoppel. Specifically, the superior court concluded judicial estoppel barred Ward-Poag’s claims because she took an inconsistent position regarding the nature of those claims when she failed to disclose her claims in her bankruptcy case, and then amended her bankruptcy petition to value her claims against the County as worth far less than alleged here. The Court of Appeals reversed the superior court’s decision, concluding that Ward-Poag’s amendment to her bankruptcy petition to list the claim in fact showed that she did not take an inconsistent position in the superior court. In making that determination, the Court of Appeals relied on its case law that created a bright-line rule that a party takes consistent positions, and thus lacks an intent to deceive the court system, when the party successfully amends a bankruptcy schedule to include a previously undisclosed asset. The Georgia Supreme Court disapproved the Court of Appeals’s analysis and its previous case law to the extent it created that bright-line rule, because "such rules have no place in the application of judicial estoppel." The Supreme Court nevertheless affirmed the Court of Appeals’s ultimate conclusion that the superior court abused its discretion in applying the doctrine at this procedural stage because there were genuine issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment to Fulton County. View "Fulton County v. Ward-Poag" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia certified two questions to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding the timing under Georgia law when a lien is created on the title of real property as between a judgment creditor and a judgment debtor: at the time the judgment is entered or at the time the writ of fieri facias on that judgment is recorded. "This timing makes a difference under federal bankruptcy law because certain transfers of the bankrupt debtor’s property may be avoided if they occur within 90 days of the filing of the bankruptcy petition." The Supreme Court responded to the district court that under Georgia law, as between the judgment creditor and judgment debtor, a lien on the title to real property is not created until the judgment is recorded, that the date of that lien is the date of recording, and the date of the lien does not relate back to the date the judgment was entered. View "Synovus Bank d/b/a First Community Bank of Tifton v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified two questions of Georgia law to the Georgia Supreme Court, centering on whether Georgia exempts the funds in a health savings account (HSA) from inclusion in a bankruptcy estate. Debtor Denise Mooney filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, listing a HSA on her petition, but exempting the entire amount in the account. Georgia law exempts the debtor’s right to receive “[a] disability, illness, or unemployment benefit,” and and “payment[s] under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor.” The Chapter 7 trustee in this case objected to the HSA exemption. The Georgia Supreme Court held that an HSA did not constitute a right to receive a "disability, illness or unemployment benefit" under Georgia law, nor did it constitute a right to receive a "payment under a pension, annuity or similar plan or contract." View "Mooney v. Webster" on Justia Law