Michigan Bankruptcy Blog

The Borrower in Bankruptcy: Top 10 Mistakes Banks & Lenders Make in Consumer Bankruptcy Cases

Check out this webinar on our YouTube channel to identify common mistakes that lenders make before and during consumer bankruptcy cases – and how to avoid those mistakes to better protect the lender's rights and collateral.

Categories: Chapter 13, Chapter 7, Did you Know?

Act in Good Faith or Else: The Limits of the Automatic Stay

Upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay goes into effect which provides a debtor with immediate protection from collection efforts by creditors. But the automatic stay is not without limitations.

In a recent opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently considered whether the automatic stay should apply to prevent a foreclosure sale in a case in which the debtor’s good faith, actions and credibility in filing for Chapter 13 were called into question.[1] The Sixth Circuit ruled against the debtor, affirming the bankruptcy court’s earlier findings that the debtor’s actions were “outrageous.” Read More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chapter 13

The Right Way to Execute a Writ: Bankruptcy Court Decision Explains the Mechanics of Collecting a Judgment in the Western District of Michigan

In litigation, obtaining a judgment is step one. Step two – often as, if not more, difficult than winning a lawsuit – is collection. In a short, interesting Memorandum of Decision and Order (the “Decision”), Judge Dales of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan (the “Bankruptcy Court”), writes about some of the practical and legal considerations involved with pursuing collection of a bankruptcy court judgment. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Bankruptcy Court Rules that "One-Size-Fits-All" is Wrong Approach for Evaluating Request for Payment of Attorney's Fees

There has been much discussion in the media in the past year about the massive amount of professional fees that have been wracked up during the City of Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy. There is always great interest - and debate - about such fees due to the nature of the process: insolvent individuals or companies with no place left to turn file for bankruptcy, creditors take a "haircut" on their claims, and the lawyers get paid. Or so the story goes. As with any complex process, though, there is plenty of nuance that gets lost in the wash, and often is more to the story. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 13, Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Sixth Circuit Reverses Bankruptcy Court Decision to Disallow Chapter 7 Debtor's Amendment to Exemptions

While Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers individuals a fresh start and discharge from many debts, it doesn't come without a price. Property of the debtor becomes property of the estate and is used to pay creditors.

But not all of it. Section 522 of the Bankruptcy Code lists exemptions that debtors can use to exempt property - up to a certain dollar amount in value - from the estate. The purpose of exemptions is to ensure that the individual debtor is able to maintain a basic standard of living post-bankruptcy. But because there are very few assets available for creditor recovery beyond exempt property in many bankruptcy cases, the propriety of a debtor's claimed exemptions is an issue that is oft-litigated.

Such was the case in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (the "Sixth Circuit") arising from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case that was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Read More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chapter 7

Sixth Circuit Rules that In Pari Delicto May Not Bar Trustee’s Conversion Claim

From Ponzi schemes to fraudulent transfers, many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases involve allegations of wrongdoing. Bankruptcy trustees, who stand in the shoes of the bankrupt entity in asserting claims, often bring actions against third parties alleging participation in, and orchestration of, fraudulent schemes. Because the alleged wrongdoing many times involves actions or transactions in which the debtor took part, defendants in such lawsuits frequently raise a defense based on the doctrine of in pari delictoRead More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Sixth Circuit Sorts Out Bankruptcy Slugfest Between Friends

It has often been said that you should never do business with friends or family. A bankruptcy court decision that was recently affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is further evidence of this proposition.  Read More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chapter 11

Divorce and Bankruptcy: The Legal Intersection of Two of Life's Most Challenging Moments

Two of the most difficult and stressful legal processes that individuals participate in are divorce and bankruptcy proceedings. Unfortunately, as lives are upturned and finances stretched, one often closely follows the other.

Such was the case in a recent case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan.

A husband and wife (both Michigan residents) used equity from property owned by the wife - prior to and during the marriage - to finance a roofing repair business started by the husband in Florida. To accomplish this, the wife quit-claimed her interest in the property to herself and the husband. They then refinanced the property and borrowed $200,000 from the lender. The loan funds were used to pay off the wife's original mortgage on the property ($120,000), pay down the husband's credit card debt and fund the new business.

They then agreed that the husband would make monthly mortgage payments on the new loan until the payments equaled the amount of the original mortgage - $120,000. They subsequently refinanced the loan with two new lenders. Shortly thereafter the husband's business failed, and the husband and wife started divorce proceedings in 2011. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Can Individuals “Strip Off” Second Mortgages on Underwater Homes in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? The Supreme Court to Decide

On Monday, November 17, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two bankruptcy-related cases that involve issues commonly faced by banks and homeowners with underwater mortgages in Chapter 7 cases. The cases of Bank of America v. Caulkett and Bank of America v. Toledo-Cardona come from Florida, where many homeowners own homes with mortgages that exceed equity value due to the recent housing crisis. Bank of America holds the second mortgage in both cases.  Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, U.S. Supreme Court

Foreclosure Without Closure: Sixth Circuit Analyzes Claims Asserted by Borrower Following State Court Foreclosure Proceedings

The financial and housing crisis that began in 2008 led to a huge wave of foreclosures and foreclosure-related litigation. While foreclosure is rooted in state law, the initiation of a foreclosure proceeding by a lender often leads to federal bankruptcy proceedings initiated by a borrower, giving rise to interesting legal issues involving the interplay of state foreclosure law and federal bankruptcy law. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (the "Sixth Circuit") considered the implications of a foreclosure on a residence following the borrowers' Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding.[1] Read More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chapter 7, Eastern District of Michigan