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Opinions


    In re Justin Daniel Paul Camacho, Case No. 18-27653 (September 2018) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The debtor filed a motion for a temporary waiver of the credit counseling requirement. The court denied the motion and dismissed the case because the debtor failed to meet the requirements for waiver provided in section 109(h) of title 11: that the debtor faced exigent circumstances and attempted to obtain the credit counseling within the seven days before the case was filed but was unable to do so. As a result, the debtor failed to meet the credit-counseling requirement imposed by section 109(h) on individuals desiring to file a bankruptcy case. The debtor's counsel then filed a letter explaining the circumstances that led the debtor to file bankruptcy and requested that the court "reinstate" the case. The court construed the letter as a motion to vacate the dismissal order under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9024. The court denied the motion because, even presuming the truth of the unverified statements in the letter, the debtor did not plausibly suggest that he could establish exigent circumstances or that he attempted to complete credit counseling before he filed his case.


    Heinrich v. Bagg, Adv. No. 17-2247 (August 2018) -- Judge B.H. Ludwig
    Court found debts based on state court civil judgment for tortious interference with contract and unlawful harvesting of timber dischargeable. Creditor failed to establish at trial that debts were for willful and malicious injury under section 523(a)(6).


    In re Bernhard, Case No. 17-27843 (August 2018) -- Judge B.H. Ludwig
    Court granted creditor and chapter 13 trustee's motions to dismiss because the debtor's total noncontingent, liquidated unsecured debts exceeded the chapter 13 debt limits. The debtor had scheduled a substantial debt as "unliquidated" because she had several affirmative defenses to it. Nevertheless, since it was readily ascertained by reference to an agreement and through simple mathematics, it was a liquidated debt and counted toward the §109(e) debt limits.


    In re Stanley Immel, Case No. 17-22036 (August 2018) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    Section 522(f)(3)(B) of title 11 provides that if a debtor elects state-law exemptions for implements and tools of the trade under a law of a state that "prohibits avoidance of a consensual lien on property otherwise eligible to be claimed as exempt", then the debtor may not avoid the lien "to the extent the value of such implements . . . [and] tools of the trade . . . exceeds $6,425." Wisconsin law "prohibits avoidance of a consensual lien on property". A debtor electing Wisconsin exemptions can only avoid a lien on implements and tools of the trade up to $6,425.


    In re Groth, Case No. 17-30264 (July 2018) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The trustee objected to confirmation because the debtor was not providing all of her projected disposable monthly income to unsecured creditors. The trustee argued that the debtor should not be allowed to deduct her homeowner association dues as a special circumstance on her means test. The court agreed and concluded that, under the facts of this case, the debtor's obligation to pay her homeowner association dues was not a special circumstance for purposes of 11 U.S.C. section 707(b)(2)(B)(i).


    In re Ryan, Case No. 18-20366 (July 2018) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The court overruled the debtors' claim objections because (1) the debtors did not serve the claimant, Waterstone Bank, by certified mail as required by Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3007(a)(2)(A)(ii) and 7004(h); and (2) the claim objections did not comply with Local Rule 3007(b) because they were not supported by an affidavit or declaration stating facts in support of the objection made by individuals with personal knowledge. The debtors attempted to support their claim objections with an affidavit from their bankruptcy attorney. The debtors' bankruptcy attorney's affidavit did not establish that the bankruptcy attorney had personal knowledge of the relevant facts and accordingly the affidavit was not sufficient to support the claim objections.


    Gorokhovsky v. Ocheretner (In re Gorokhovsky), Adv. No. 17-2360 (July 2018) -- Judge B.E. Hanan
    The debtor moved for sanctions against his ex-wife and her family law attorney for allegedly violating the automatic stay by filing a state court motion for contempt based on the debtor’s failure to pay “section 71” payments incurred in the parties’ prepetition divorce. The court denied the motion, first noting—without deciding—that the action may have been excepted from the automatic stay under § 362(b)(2)(B) as an attempt to collect a domestic support obligation from non-estate property, and that the debtor had failed to demonstrate any compensable injury from the action, precluding an award of damages.


    In re Ali, Case No. 18-25548 (July 2018) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The debtor filed an application to waive the filing fee. The debtor filed a detailed affidavit showing he met 28 U.S.C. §1931(f)(1)’s waiver requirements, including stating facts showing that he faced special circumstances that make a discharge extraordinarily beneficial. The court waived the debtor’s filing fee and commended debtor’s pro bono counsel.


    Doss v. Norhardt Crossing Condominium Association (In re Doss), Adv. No. 18-2091 (June 2018) -- Judge B.E. Hanan
    The court rejected the debtor's argument that statutory liens become avoidable judicial liens after the holder obtains a foreclosure judgment, dismissing the adversary complaint against the debtor's condominium association on summary judgment. The court also ruled that the statutory lien was not avoidable under sec. 506(d), regardless of whether it was "consensual" or "nonconsensual," and that sec. 523(a)(16) applies to discharge of personal liability, not liens.


    In re Hicks, Case No. 17-2800 (June 2018) -- Judge B.E. Hanan
    The chapter 13 trustee objected to the debtor’s motion to modify a confirmed plan on the basis that its “plan shortening” language operated as a retroactive forgiveness of missed plan payments (and would, essentially, allow for less than 36 months’ worth of plan payments). The court overruled the objection, noting that the disposable income and “applicable commitment period” requirements of § 1325(b) do not apply to modifications under § 1329, but good faith considerations remain applicable.