Articles Posted in Chapter 7

One of the benefits of bankruptcy is that it allows parties to discharge their debts so that they can regain financial security and move forward with their lives. Certain debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, however, such as those that arise out of the malicious or willful injury to another party. Recently, a California court explained what conduct constitutes willful and malicious behavior so as to render a debt nondischargeable in a case in which it ultimately rejected the debtor’s appeal. If you have significant debts, you could qualify for relief via bankruptcy, and it is smart to talk to a California bankruptcy attorney about your options.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the debtor filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. One of the debts he sought to have discharged was a subrogation claim from an insurance company. The insurance company moved to have the debt deemed nondischargeable on the grounds that it arose out of the debtor’s willful and malicious acts. The bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the insurance company, deeming the debt nondischargeable, and the debtor appealed. The bankruptcy appellant panel affirmed the bankruptcy court’s decision, and the debtor filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Grounds for Deeming a Debt Nondischargeable

Upon review, the court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s ruling. In doing so, it explained that the court did not make a clear mistake in finding that the debtor’s conduct was tortious as required for reversal. Specifically, the court explained that the defendant illegally converted another person’s vehicle without her permission, depriving her of her property and causing her to suffer damages.

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Filing for bankruptcy is an option for many people struggling to pay their debts. While many debts are dischargeable via bankruptcy, not all are. For example, people cannot seek relief from certain tax obligations by filing bankruptcy actions, as clarified by a California court in a recent ruling issued in a bankruptcy matter. If you have debts that you are unable to pay, you may be eligible to file for bankruptcy, and you should speak to a California bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the debtor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2015. The action was converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the court ultimately ordered a discharge. In August 2021, the debtor received a notice from the IRS informing him that he owed approximately $10,000 in taxes for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. He subsequently moved to open his bankruptcy case.

Reportedly, after the court granted his motion, he filed an adversary complaint against the IRS, asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment that his 2012 and 2013 tax obligations were discharged by his Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. The IRS filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted. The debtor then appealed.

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It is not uncommon in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings for the courts to permit the Trustee to sell the property of the bankruptcy estate. While it is within the courts’ authority to allow such sales to occur, they must ensure that any property is sold for its optimal value in consideration of the circumstances. Recently, a California court addressed the issue of how a property’s optimal value is determined in a matter in which a party with a lien against the debtor’s estate argued that an asset was sold for less than it was worth. If you have questions about how filing for bankruptcy may impact your property rights, it is wise to talk to a California bankruptcy lawyer promptly.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the debtor and the claimant were business partners who engaged in a series of real estate investments in the late 1990s. Their relationship deteriorated over time, and the claimant divested himself of his interests in their joint assets. The debtor agreed to pay him for said interests but failed to do so, and the claimant ultimately obtained a $34 million judgment against him.

Allegedly, the debtor filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and an adversary proceeding seeking relief, including the mandatory subordination of the claimant’s judgment. The court granted the motion. At the same time, the Trustee filed a motion asking the court to authorize the sale of one of the debtor’s properties free and clear of liens for $18 million, even though the claimant assessed its value at $25 million. The property ultimately sold at auction for $20 million, and the claimant appealed the sale order.

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Bankruptcy trustees often handle multiple cases at one time and are expected to keep track of the unique facts and pleadings of each case. If a trustee hastily files a pleading in the wrong case, it may negatively affect their rights, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a California court. If you need assistance managing your debts and are interested in learning more about bankruptcy, it is in your best interest to meet with a California bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the debtor filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in July 2019, and a chapter 7 trustee was appointed shortly after. Two years later, on the last day to institute section 108(a) and 546(a) actions, the trustee filed multiple complaints in which he set forth both bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy claims against third parties. One of the claims he filed was an adversary complaint against the appellant to avoid transfers and seek damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment; however, he filed it under the wrong docket number,

Reportedly, the trustee did not take any action to remedy his mistake for three months. Specifically, he dismissed the incorrectly filed complaint and filed an amended complaint under the correct docket number. The appellant moved to dismiss the adversary proceeding on the grounds that it was time-barred. The court granted the appellant’s motion, and the trustee appealed.

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There are key differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and which one is appropriate depends on a debtor’s unique circumstances. While debtors must pass a means test in order to pursue Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that does not mean that their decision to seek debt relief under that Chapter cannot be challenged by their creditors. Recently, a California ruling discussed what factors the courts consider when weighing whether to grant a creditor’s motion to convert a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to Chapter 11. If you have debts that you are unable to pay, you may be able to obtain relief through bankruptcy, and you should speak to a California bankruptcy lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the debtor, who is a professional hockey player, filed a Chapter 7 petition for bankruptcy. One of his creditors subsequently filed a motion to convert his Chapter 7 case to Chapter 11 and asked the court to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee. The court noted that the creditors’ chances of recovering on their claims would be greatly improved if the case was transferred to Chapter 11, explaining that in Chapter 11, any income the debtor earns after filing the petition belongs to the estate, while in Chapter 7, the debtor retains any such income. The court nonetheless denied the creditor’s motion. The creditor subsequently appealed.

Factors Considered When Evaluating Whether to Convert a Chapter 7 Case to Chapter 11

The trial court’s decision was upheld on appeal. The court explained that section 706(b) of the Bankruptcy Code allows a court to convert a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to Chapter 11 upon the request of a creditor, even if the debtor does not consent to the conversion. The court noted, though, that Section 706(b) does not offer any guidance as to what a court should or should not consider when evaluating whether to grant such a request.

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While bankruptcy grants many people relief from overwhelming debts, not all bankruptcy proceedings are resolved in a straightforward manner. Instead, in some cases, one or more parties will file an adversary proceeding objecting to the discharge of the debtor’s debts. While there are pleading and procedural rules that parties filing adversary proceedings must comply with, they are granting substantial leeway with regard to amendments. The right to amend an adversary complaint was the topic of a recent ruling issued in a California bankruptcy case. If you are interested in pursuing debt relief through bankruptcy, it is wise to contact a trusted California bankruptcy lawyer to assess your options.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the debtors filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Subsequently, one of their creditors filed an adversarial complaint. The allegations in the adversarial complaint were not offered in the court’s opinion; however, the creditor later sought leave to amend the complaint. The bankruptcy court issued an order granting leave to amend, and the debtors appealed. On appeal, the bankruptcy appellate panel (BAP) affirmed the bankruptcy court ruling. The debtors then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Amendments of Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings

The Court of Appeals explained that it reviews decisions de novo, using the same standard of review that the BAP applied to the ruling issued by the bankruptcy court. Similarly, the bankruptcy court’s conclusions of law are reviewed de novo, and its factual findings are examined for clear error. Continue reading

Bankruptcy proceedings typically involve a substantial number of documents. Specifically, debtors must provide all available information that demonstrates their financial status and transactions. If a debtor fails to provide such information and does not have a valid reason for the lack of such documentation, their claim may be dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a California bankruptcy case, in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the debtor’s claim. If you have debts you are struggling to pay, you may be able to seek reprieve via bankruptcy, and it is smart to speak to a knowledgeable California bankruptcy lawyer regarding what measures you may be able to take to regain financial security.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the debtor filed a bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy court ultimately dismissed his petition on the grounds that he lacked adequate records demonstrating his business transactions or financial condition. Specifically, he neglected to provide documents through which the court could define his ownership interest in a cattle ranch and instead provided bank borrowing certificates that were rife with inconsistencies. Thus, the court barred his discharge.  The debtor appealed. Upon review, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court decision. The debtor then filed a second appeal to the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Dismissal of a Bankruptcy Case Due to Lack of Information

Section 11 U.S.C. 727(a)(3) of the bankruptcy code prohibits a debtor’s discharge if they have failed to preserve any recorded information from which their business dealings may be ascertained unless their actions or failure to act was justified under the circumstances. In other words, a debtor must prevent adequate written evidence to allow their creditors to reasonably determine their present financial condition and to trace their business transactions for a reasonable period in the past. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for trustees to file adversarial pleadings in bankruptcy matters, arguing that debtors fraudulently transferred assets or funds in an attempt to avoid obligations. While federal law prohibits such transfers within the United States, the applicable statute does not operate to allow for the avoidance of transfers that occur in other countries. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a California bankruptcy case, in which the court dismissed the creditor’s complaint. If you have questions regarding your obligations to creditors after you seek debt relief, it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable California bankruptcy lawyer to determine your rights.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions were filed against the debtor company and the debtor principals, after which the court consolidated the debtor estates. The court then appointed a trustee, and proof of claims totaling more than $100 million were filed against the debtors, most of which involved money owed to investors.

Reportedly, the trustee filed an adversary pleading asking to set aside and recover transfers he alleged were fraudulent. The transfers, which were fees and commissions totaling close to $900,000, were paid by the debtors to a foreign exchange brokerage. The debtors moved to dismiss the trustee’s complaint, arguing in part that the fraudulent transfer law did not apply to extraterritorial transfers. Continue reading

One of the many benefits of filing bankruptcy is that, once a petition is filed, an automatic stay is entered that prevents any creditors from pursuing claims against the debtor. While the courts have the authority to lift stays in certain circumstances, their right is not absolute, and if a stay is erroneously lifted, it may constitute an abuse of discretion. This was demonstrated in a recent California opinion in which the court reversed an order lifting an automatic stay. If you owe debts that you are unable to pay, it is advisable to speak to a skillful California bankruptcy lawyer to discuss whether you may be eligible for debt relief.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the debtor filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, which accordingly resulted in an automatic stay of any pending claims. After he filed the petition, he created a company. The creditor then filed a motion to lift the automatic stay so that she could amend the state court judgment issued against the debtor to add the debtor’s company as an additional debtor and to enforce the judgment against the debtor.

Allegedly, the defendant opposed the motion, arguing that his company was not liable for his debts and that any claims against the company would be akin to seeking unlawful enforcement of the judgment against him and his post-petition assets. The court entered an order granting the debtor a Chapter 7 discharge and subsequently entered an order granting the creditor’s motion for relief from the stay. The debtor then appealed. Continue reading

In many bankruptcy cases, there are insufficient funds to fulfill the debtor’s obligations. Thus, the creditors may enter into a stipulation regarding how any available money should be distributed. Such stipulations do not necessarily mean that a creditor cannot pursue any other claims against a debtor, however. The implication of a stipulation entered into by a creditor in a bankruptcy action on future claims was the topic of an opinion recently issued by a California court, in a case in which the debtor argued the IRS was barred from recovering taxes from the debtor. If you are unable to pay your debts, you could be eligible to file for bankruptcy, and you should meet with a trusted California bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.

The Stipulation

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding in May 2013 and received a discharge two years later. In March 2018, the IRS filed an amended proof of claim for unpaid taxes the plaintiff owed for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011. The franchise tax board (FTB) filed a proof of claim as well. The bankruptcy estate did not have enough funds to pay the IRS and FTB, and so they entered into a stipulation with the bankruptcy trustee regarding the division of the funds that were available.

Allegedly, the stipulation was approved by the bankruptcy court, and funds were distributed to the parties. The IRS then advised the plaintiff that he owed close to $500,000 for the 2009 tax year. The plaintiff filed an action with the bankruptcy court, arguing that the stipulation barred the IRS from recovering any additional funds from him for the 2009 tax year, and filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The bankruptcy court denied the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

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