The plaintiff, an owner of a shopping center, alleged the debtor, a real estate developer, participated in intentional acts of conspiracy and antitrust violations to deprive it of its property or to cause great damage to its property, resulting in a nondischargeable obligation under sec. 523(a)(6). The debtor contended the plaintiff's per se analysis of the parties' business arrangement should be rejected in favor of a "rule of reason" analysis of antitrust violations and an analysis of competition enhancing factors. Based on the debtor's own statements, the court deemed his actions against the plaintiff were willful and showed clear malice. The court was also satisfied that the debtor's deliberate side deal with the plaintiff's anchor tenant to leave the space but retain the lease, and the resulting reduction of value of the satellite space, constituted price fixing and a per se violation of antitrust laws; therefore, the debtor's liability to the plaintiff was excepted from discharge.
Plaintiffs brought an adversary proceeding against the chapter 7 debtor to except from discharge under sec. 523(a)(2)(B) an unsecured obligation arising from the sale of the plaintiffs' real estate to the debtor's LLC. The court determined that (1) a written financial statement from the debtor was provided to the plaintiffs and was used to procure financing for the LLC from the plaintiffs, (2) the financial statement painted a substantially untruthful picture of the debtor's financial condition, (3) the plaintiffs' reliance on the financial statement was reasonable, (4) the debtor caused the financial statement to be made, and (5) the financial disclosure was provided with the intent to deceive. The debtor's liability to the plaintiffs was excepted from discharge.
Plaintiffs, homeowners, alleged the chapter 7 debtors, doing business as a construction company, used monies paid to the latter for purposes other than paying the material supplier, in violation of the theft by contractor statute, sec. 799.02(5), Wis. Stats., resulting in a nondischargeable obligation under section 523(a)(4). The court found that because there was no contract between the plaintiffs and the material supplier, the plaintiffs had no right to sue on the material supplier's behalf. Although the plaintiffs may have had a claim for defective product against the debtors, such a claim was dischargeable. The adversary proceeding was dismissed.
Court entered, sua sponte, an order modifying the stay to all the plaintiffs to proceed with an action against the chapter 7 debtors in state court. The order allowed the state court to determine liability, if any, but the plaintiffs could not execute on a judgment until the bankruptcy court determined dischargeability. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to vacate the sua sponte order and have the action heard by the bankruptcy court. The court denied the motion as the facts pointed to the plaintiffs' forum shopping and dissatisfaction with the state court judge, which were not grounds for revoking the abstention order.
Chapter 7 trustee filed notice of his intent to compromise marshaling claim and creditors objected. The court held that the trustee's proposed compromise of marshaling claims against secured creditor was in the best interests of the estate. The creditor's claims were secured both by interest in assets of debtor and interest in assets of sister company, pursuant to which trustee, in return for $15,000 payment from sister company, gave up any claim he had to compel creditor to look first to assets of sister company before it tried to recover from assets of debtor's estate.
Chapter 7 trustee commenced adversary proceeding alleging a payment to the debtor's father was a preferential payment under sec. 547. Pursuant to a family court order, a workers' compensation award to the debtor was transferred the debtor's father, in exchange for his release of a lien on a vehicle awarded to the debtor's ex-spouse. The only element of sec. 547(b) the father disputed was whether the funds transferred constituted "an interest of the debtor in property." The father reasoned that because the workers' compensation award was never available to the debtor, she did not have an interest in the property transferred. The court found in favor of the trustee, determining that an interest in the debtor's property was transferred when the father was paid. The court also found that none of the defenses available under sec. 547(c) applied as the consideration given by the father at the time the transfer was given to the debtor's former spouse, not to the debtor. The father's claim that the proceeds were exempt was irrelevant because that was not a defense under sec. 547(c) and only a debtor could claim exemptions.
Chapter 7 debtor moved for contempt and sanctions against judgment creditors for their alleged violation of the discharge injunction in failing to release a lien creating a cloud on the debtor's title to community property awarded to her by the divorce court. The bankruptcy court held that while the creditors having community claims against both the debtor and her nonfiling spouse may have received a technically deficient notice of the debtor's bankruptcy, inasmuch as the notice failed to identify the debtor's estranged husband as a nonfiling spouse, the creditors nevertheless had sufficient notice of the relationship between the parties, and were barred by the debtor's discharge from proceeding against after-acquired community property of the debtor and her spouse. However, no sanctions were imposed for the creditors' alleged violation of the discharge injunction.
In sec. 523(a) nondischargeability action, plaintiff alleged the chapter 7 debtor violated the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, sec. 134.90, Wis. Stats., in connection with his employment with the plaintiff, a pizza franchise. The court found the plaintiff lacked standing to prosecute a cause of action with respect to the pizza dough recipe because the debtor obtained the recipe prior to his employment with the plaintiff. The court also found the plaintiff failed to prove it was entitled to relief with respect to the misappropriation of its business manuals and cost calculations. [Previously, on summary judgment, damages related to the plaintiff's cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty were excepted from the debtor's discharge under sec. 523(a)(4).]
Chapter 7 trustee filed adversary proceeding seeking to avoid the debtor's transfer of a lien on a her vehicle to the defendant. The trustee also sought turnover of the lien and postpetition payments made by the debtor to the defendant. Within 90 days prepetition, the debtor borrowed funds from the defendant to obtain the vehicle. The defendant's lien interest was not perfected until more than 20 days after the debtor took possession of the vehicle. The court avoided the defendant's security interest; however, the defendant was not required to turn over the postpetition payments made by the debtor. Additionally, the parties' defective reaffirmation agreement did not affect the outcome of the proceeding.
Creditor filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay. The chapter 7 trustee objected to the motion, as well as to the creditor's secured claim. The trustee alleged the creditor did not properly perfect its lien in the debtor's vehicle and that the lien was void as to the trustee. The creditor argued its security interest was valid because a properly perfected security interest was assigned to it from the prior lender and that perfection remained on the vehicle's title. The court found that since the release of the prior lender's lien was held by the creditor and never recorded, it was insufficient to provide notice of perfection. Because the obligation to perfect a security interest is wholly upon the secured party, the creditor's defense that the debtor failed to deliver the certificate of title was rejected. Because the lien was unperfected, it was avoidable by the trustee and the claim was deemed unsecured.