Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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The Bankruptcy Code did not forestall the automatic operation of Georgia's pawn statute. In this case, debtor entered into a pawn transaction in which he pledged his car in exchange for a loan, defaulted on the loan, and then, shortly before the expiration of the redemption period—during which he could pay off his debt (with interest) and thereby regain title to his car—filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. The Eleventh Circuit held that the car dropped out of the bankruptcy estate and vested in the pawnbroker when the prescribed redemption period lapsed. Accordingly, with respect to the car, 11 U.S.C. 1322(b)(2) had no field of operation. The court explained that following the expiration of the grace period, the pawnbroker did not have a mere "claim" on debtor's car, but rather had the car itself. View "Title Max v. Northington" on Justia Law

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Section 362(k)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code specifically departs from the American Rule and authorizes costs and attorneys' fees incurred by the debtor in ending a willful violation of an automatic stay, prosecuting a damages violation, and defending those judgments on appeal. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order awarding defendants attorneys' fees and costs that they incurred because of plaintiff's unsuccessful appeal of the damages award to defendants for her violation of the Bankruptcy Code's automatic stay provision. The court also granted defendants' motion for attorneys' fees incurred in this appeal. View "Mantiply v. Horne" on Justia Law

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The M/V Deep Blue purchased fuel from a supplier, the supplier purchased the fuel from an affiliate, and the affiliate subcontracted with Radcliff. Radcliff subsequently asserted a maritime lien on the Deep Blue in a bid to recover directly from the ship, giving rise to this litigation. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that Radcliff did not have a lien on the Deep Blue. Instead, a lien had arisen in favor of the global fuel supplier, and was duly assigned to ING Bank, an intervenor in the suit. View "Barcliff, LLC v. M/V Deep Blue" on Justia Law

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When a plaintiff takes inconsistent positions by pursuing in district court a civil claim that he failed to disclose as an asset in his bankruptcy proceedings, a district court may apply judicial estoppel to bar the plaintiff's civil claim if it finds that the plaintiff intended to make a mockery of the judicial system. When determining whether a plaintiff who failed to disclose a civil lawsuit in bankruptcy filings intended to make a mockery of the judicial system, a district court should consider all the facts and circumstances of the case. The Eleventh Circuit reasoned that the court should look to factors such as the plaintiff's level of sophistication, his explanation for the omission, whether he subsequently corrected the disclosures, and any action taken by the bankruptcy court concerning the nondisclosure. The court overruled portions of Barger v. City of Cartersville, 348 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir. 2003), and Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex, Inc., 291 F.3d 1282 (11th Cir. 2002), that permit a district court to infer intent to misuse the courts without considering the individual plaintiff and the circumstances surrounding the nondisclosure. Accordingly, the court remanded for consideration of whether the district court abused its discretion in light of this new standard. View "Slater v. United Steel Corp." on Justia Law

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Section 707(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, which allows a bankruptcy court to dismiss a petition filed under Chapter 7 if it determines that relief would be an "abuse" within the meaning of that section, applies to a petition that was initially filed under Chapter 13 but later converted to a petition under Chapter 7. The Eleventh Circuit explained that by excluding converted cases from section 707(b), the effect would be to read this important remedial provision out of the Code. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision to uphold the bankruptcy court's dismissal of the petition in this case. View "Pollitzer v. Gebhardt" on Justia Law