Opinions

 

The NCMB offers a database of opinions for the years 2000 onward, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

In re Black (17-50064) 03/02/2017
(Judge Lena M. James)

Alleged debtor was in an accident while driving the petitioning creditor’s vehicle, and petitioning creditor was injured and retained counsel. Petitioning creditor eventually obtained a default judgment and planned to file an involuntary petition to use a bankruptcy trustee to assert first-party non-assignable state law claims against insurers. Insurers provided alleged debtor with counsel to seek to set aside the default judgment, and the petitioning creditor obtained a writ of execution that went unsatisfied and immediately filed the petition. Alleged debtor responded to the petition, seeking dismissal of the case on several grounds, including bad faith. The court found the alleged debtor overcame the presumption that the involuntary petition was filed in good faith, and the case was dismissed. The court noted that the involuntary petition strategy itself raised serious questions of good faith; that the case was a two-party dispute and an improper attempt at debt collection; that it was abnormal to consider filing an involuntary petition prior to executing on a judgment; that petitioning creditor's counsel, both in state court and in bankruptcy, made misleading statements and took misleading actions that constituted questionable conduct, may have contributed to obtaining the default judgment, and raise ethics concerns; that the race to file the petition appeared to be an attempt to cut off alleged debtor's ability to seek review of the judgment; and that alleged debtor should be allowed to pursue his own state law claims and there is no wasting asset.

Dismissal, Published No
In re Jolly 02/27/2017 02/27/2017
(Judge Benjamin A. Kahn)

Debtor claimed an exemption in a retirement annuity pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(a)(9).  Trustee objected to this exemption because it did not meet the requirements provided for in that subsection.  Debtor contended that even though the annuity did not meet the standards of an individual retirement plan under the Internal Revenue Code, it should be held as exempt because it is a plan treated in the same manner as an individual retirement plan.  The Court sustained Trustee's objection, finding that the Debtor's annuity was not sufficiently similar to an individual retirement plan to entitle the Debtor to an exemption in this property.

Exemptions, Published No

Memorandum Order denying Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment seeking an exception to discharge under Sections 523(a)(2), (a)(4), and (a)(6) and an award of punitive damages pursuant to N.C.G.S. Section 1D.  A defendant's liability under relevant non-bankruptcy law must first be established in order to proceed with an adversary proceeding in a dischargeability context.  Because Plaintiffs failed to establish liability on an underlying debt, the Court denied summary judgment.

Discharge/Dischargeability, Published No

Judgment and Memorandum Opinion: (1) denying Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions for discovery violations under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37; (2) declining to sanction Defendant and Defendant's counsel under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011 sua sponte; and (3) finding insolvency and awarding a judgment of $97,600 in favor of Plaintiff against Defendant for preferential transfers under 11 U.S.C. § 547(b).

Preferences, Published No
In re Carter (16-50723) 01/20/2017
(Judge Lena M. James)

Debtor caused a vehicular collision while driving under the influence, killing the victim. At the time of the accident, two insurance policies covered the Debtor, and neither policy was fully able to settle with the decedent's estate. A lawsuit resulted in a judgment in favor of the estate, upon which the estate was unable to collect. The estate and the decedent's wife then filed an involuntary petition, placing the Debtor into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. An order for relief was entered, and special counsel was appointed to pursue potential first party claims against the insurer relating to their conduct in representing the Debtor prepetition. One of the insurance carriers moved to dismiss the case, asserting that the case had been filed in bad faith as an attempt to bring third party claims against the carriers, which is not allowed under North Carolina law. The court determined that, as no adversary proceeding had yet been filed, and as the carrier was not otherwise parties in interest, it lacked standing to make a motion to dismiss. Further, even if the carrier had standing, the types of claims contemplated by the Trustee would have alone been insufficient for a finding of bad faith. Motion denied.

Standing, Published No
In re Griffin 01/04/2017
(Judge Benjamin A. Kahn)

Debtor executed an agreement with a creditor to reaffirm a debt on a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox in the amount of $34,016.49. The vehicle had a retail value according to NADA of $20,550.00. The proposed monthly payments were to be approximately $600.00 of Debtor's combined monthly income of approximately $1,800.00. Debtor's schedules, including the proposed reaffirmation agreement, displayed a negative net monthly income of $337.20. Debtor provided no substantive explanation in support of reaffirmation regarding his ability to stay current on his obligations, aside from essentially "spending less." The requisite certification to be signed by counsel for debtors in support of reaffirmation agreements was signed in the name of counsel with whom Debtor testified he had never spoken. Having serious concerns about the affidavit signed by counsel, the Court ordered Debtor's counsel to appear and show cause as to why the declaration in support of the reaffirmation agreement should not be stricken, the reaffirmation agreement disapproved, and why sanctions should not be imposed for violation of Bankruptcy Rule 9011.

Reaffirmation, Published Yes
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