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Opinions


    In re Sternat, Case No. 15-21681 (August 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The debtor filed a motion under 11 U.S.C. section 522(f)(1)(A) to avoid a judicial lien on his residence held by his ex-wife. The debtor's ex-wife argued that the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Farrey v. Sanderfoot prevented the debtor from avoiding her lien. The court concluded that the debtor's ex-wife's lien attached to the debtor's pre-existing interest in the residence, and, therefore, Farrey v. Sanderfoot did not apply. The court also concluded that the divorce court's judgment does not give rise to an avoidable equitable lien.


    In re Brittany King, Case No. 16-24784 (July 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The chapter 13 debtor filed a motion requesting that the court approve a loan for the purchase of a vehicle. The court held that the Bankruptcy Code delegates oversight of chapter 13 debtor consumer transactions to the chapter 13 trustee. The court denied the debtor's motion but took no view on whether the chapter 13 trustee should exercise her discretion to approve the debtor's proposed consumer credit transaction.


    In re Gouthro, Case No. 12-35699 (June 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The court overruled the debtors' meritless objection to the trustee's affidavit of default. The objection neither (1) disputed the veracity of the trustee's affidavit of default nor (2) argued that the debtors could establish excusable neglect to justify an expansion of the time to perform under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9006(b)(1). The order provides notice that similar meritless objections to affidavits of default risk sanctions under 11 U.S.C. section 105(a) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011(c).


    In re James Burke, Case No. 16-23732 (June 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The chapter 13 debtor's case was automatically dismissed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. section 521(i) because the debtor failed to file his Statement of Financial Affairs. The debtor filed a motion to vacate the dismissal. He based the motion on the fact that the court's deficiency order did not advise him that he failed to file the Statement of Financial Affairs. The motion contended that counsel relied on the order to determine which additional documents he needed to file. The court denied the motion and explained that it is the debtor's duty to comply with section 521. Because the debtor neither timely filed the information required by section 521(a) nor moved to extend the time before section 521(i)'s 45-day deadline expired, the case was dismissed by operation of law, and the court had no authority to vacate that dismissal.


    In re Gelhaar, Case No. 15-20540 (June 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    Decision and order discussing the best-interests-of-creditors test under 11 U.S.C. section 1325(a)(4).


    In re Perez (June 2016) -- Chief Judge S.V. Kelley
    Chapter 13 debtor who worked at car dealership not required to include value of demo vehicle in her current monthly income.


    Woodsman LLC v. Denil, Adversary Case No. 15-2567 (May 2016) -- Judge B.E. Hanan
    This adversary proceeding involved a dispute over the rights and interests of the defendant-debtors, the vendees, in a piece of real property that was subject to a land contract where the redemption period under state law had expired, but the state court had yet to enter an order under Wisconsin Statutes section 846.30 finalizing the strict foreclosure. Plaintiff, Woodsman LLC, the vendor, moved for summary judgment on two alternative grounds: (1) that the subject property was not property of the debtors' bankruptcy estate; or (2) that the entry of an order finalizing Woodsman's judgment of strict foreclosure under Wisconsin Statutes section 846.30 was a ministerial act not subject to the automatic stay. The court held that: (1) the subject property was property of the debtors' bankruptcy estate because the debtors held equitable title in the property until a final order under Wisconsin Statutes section 846.30 was entered; and (2) entering a final order under Wisconsin Statutes section 846.30 was not a ministerial act excepted from the automatic stay even if the ministerial acts exception was a permissible construct within the Seventh Circuit.


    In re Birschbach, Case No. 15-22376 (March 2016) -- Judge G.M. Halfenger
    The debtor filed a motion pursuant to 11 U.S.C. section 522(f) in one push mower and two riding lawn mowers. The court determined that section 522(f)(4) did not permit the debtor to avoid the lien on the riding lawn mowers but that the debtor was entitled to avoid the lien on the push mower.


    Phifer v. City of Milwaukee (In re Phifer), 547 B.R. 288 (March 2016) -- Chief Judge S.V. Kelley
    Debtor's completed Chapter 13 plan and discharge effectively stripped City's tax lien from property, and subsequent tax foreclosure to recover discharged taxes violated discharge injunction.


    In re Beck (February 2016) -- Chief Judge S.V. Kelley
    Debtor could avoid Dept. of Workforce Development lien as a judicial lien impairing debtor's exemptions.