On May 4, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, No. 14-116, a case which deals with issues of finality and appealability of orders in bankruptcy proceedings. In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that a bankruptcy court’s order denying confirmation of a Chapter 13 debtor’s proposed repayment plan is not a final order and thus is not immediately appealable. Read More ›
When an individual contemplates filing for bankruptcy protection, he or she has a few options. One is to file a Chapter 7 case, and another is to file a Chapter 13 case. In a Chapter 7, all of a debtor’s non-exempt assets are transferred to a bankruptcy estate to be liquidated and distributed to creditors. In a Chapter 13, the debtor retains assets and makes payments to creditors according to a court-approved plan. Read More ›
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.
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. The Sixth Circuit ruled against the debtor, affirming the bankruptcy court’s earlier findings that the debtor’s actions were “outrageous.” Read More ›
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 ›
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 ›
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 ›
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 delicto. Read More ›
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 ›
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 ›