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Showing 28 posts in Western District of Michigan.

Bankruptcy Court Denies Creditors Request for Relief from Automatic Stay to Arbitrate its Claims and Progress Setoff and Recoupment Rights

One of the primary reasons that most debtors seek bankruptcy relief is the automatic stay, which prevents creditors from pursuing collection efforts outside of the bankruptcy proceedings. Creditors can, however, seek relief from the automatic stay from the bankruptcy court under certain circumstances. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 11, Western District of Michigan

Bankruptcy Court Upholds Contemporaneous Exchange for New Value Defense in Preference Action

The Bankruptcy Code grants a trustee (or a debtor in possession) certain “avoidance” powers to recover payments to creditors made shortly before a bankruptcy filing where the payment gave the creditor more than other, similarly situated, creditors would receive through the bankruptcy process. 

In a recent case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan (the “Court”), the Court considered whether a payment made by a Chapter 7 debtor to her son in advance of the debtor’s bankruptcy filing was “preferential” and thus subject to recovery by the Chapter 7 trustee. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Fraudulently Obtained Unemployment Benefits are not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

State unemployment benefits are paid pursuant to a system that relies on trust. Benefits are paid based on representations made by claimants that they are out of work and that they continue to seek out full-time work. If a claimant finds part-time work, then benefits are reduced accordingly.

A recent opinion from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan (the “Court”) addresses a Chapter 7 debtor’s attempt to discharge a debt owed to the State of Michigan for overpaid unemployment benefits, and penalties and interest stemming from the overpayment.  Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Collateral Estoppel Take Two: Bankruptcy Court Revisits Issue Preclusion in Adversary Proceeding

In the Summer of 2014, we wrote about a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan (the “Bankruptcy Court”) involving an intra-family squabble. Our analysis focused on the Bankruptcy Court’s decision related to cross motions for summary judgment filed by the parties, and whether the doctrine of “collateral estoppel ”was applicable to the claims being asserted by the parties in an adversary proceeding pending in the bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy offers a fresh start to debtors, it’s not always a fast fresh start, as evidenced by the fact that the Bankruptcy Court recently published another opinion in the same adversary proceeding relating to a similar claim and again analyzing the applicability of collateral estoppel. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan

Can Filing a Claim in a Debtor’s Bankruptcy be a Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? Maybe, But in this Case the Bankruptcy Court Rules in Creditor’s Favor

The Bankruptcy Code is federal law. It affords debtors protections - including the automatic stay and debt discharge injunction - that hold creditors at bay.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is also federal law. It contains limitations on what a debt collector can do when attempting to collect a debt.

Because debts - and more particularly attempts to collect those debts - drive people into bankruptcy, bankruptcy courts are sometimes forced to grapple with questions of how the Bankruptcy Code and FDCPA interact and impact each other. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 13, Western District of Michigan

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 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

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

Are Student Loans Dischargeable in Bankruptcy? Only if You Can Prove Undue Hardship

Many students don't realize the scope and extent of the lifelong financial burden they saddle themselves with when taking out student loans. It is only after getting into the "real world" that they realize that living expenses are higher, and after tax income is lower, than they anticipated, making student loan debt repayment difficult if not impossible.

Some look to bankruptcy for relief and a fresh start. But all debt is not treated equally in bankruptcy. Student loan debt is not the same as, for instance, credit card debt. It is not dischargeable pursuant to Bankruptcy Code section 523(a)(8) except in one narrow circumstance. Specifically, to discharge student loan debt, a debtor must show undue hardship - a very high bar. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 7, Western District of Michigan