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June 27, 2011

Discharge in Chapter 7 Denied for Failure to Comply with Chapter 13 Confirmation Order

Standiferd v. United States Trustee, --- F.3d ----, D. Ct. No. 1:09-CV-00083-RB-RLP (10th Cir., April, 2011)

Issue:               Is denial of the discharge appropriate based on chapter 7 debtor’s pre-conversion failure to obey the Chapter 13 confirmation order.

Holding:          Yes under these facts.   

Appeal from District Court

Ronald and Betty Standifer, filed Chapter 13, obtained confirmation of their Chapter 13 plan, and then violated the confirmation order by failing to update the trustee of their post-petition monthly income report and tax return, as required under their Chapter 13 confirmation order.  The trustee filed a motion to dismiss and the debtors voluntarily converted their case to Chapter 7.  The Chapter 7 trustee then filed a complaint to deny the discharge based on the failure to follow the confirmation order.  The bankruptcy court agreed and denied the discharge.  The District Court affirmed.  

The 10th Circuit affirmed.  Under section 727 (a)(6)(A), the court may deny discharge of a debt if the debtor willfully failed “in this case” to follow any “lawful order of the court.” The debtors argued a confirmation order is not a “lawful order of the court” and cannot require a debtor to do anything because under section 1307(a) and (b), a Chapter 13 debtor has an unwaivable right to either convert his case to a Chapter 7 at any time, or dismiss the Chapter 13 case completely.  In applying the “plain meaning” doctrine to interpret the statue, and attempting to preserve legislative intent, the court held that for the purposes of § 727 (a)(6)(A) a Chapter 13 Confirmation Order is a “lawful order of the court”.  Although the code may permit a Chapter 13 to convert or dismiss his case, and stop complying with the provisions of a confirmation order, “as long as the debtor remains under Chapter 13, however, he must comply with the terms of the bankruptcy court’s confirmation order.”

The debtors further argued that section 727 (a)(6)(A) is only applicable in a case proceeding under Chapter 7 and should not apply because the refusal to obey the confirmation order occurred before the case was converted to Chapter 7 and not “in this case” as required under the statute.”  The debtors relied on section 348(f) in their claim that it is Congress’ intent for the two phases of a bankruptcy case be treated as separate and distinct, upon conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7.  The court held that at the time the discharge was denied under section 727 (a)(6)(A), the case was proceeding under Chapter 7.  Further, rather than applying section 348(f) which focuses on the composition of a converted bankruptcy estate, the court applied section 348(a) stating “the conversion of a case from one chapter to another… does not affect the date of the filing of the petition, the commencement of the case, or the order for relief.”  For purposes of section 727 (a)(6)(A) ““this case” includes proceedings occurring both before and after conversion.”

The court found the denial of discharge to be a proper remedy against this debtor for misconduct. Under the Chapter 13 plan, the debtors proposed to pay 100% of the allowed unsecured which began at upwards of $400,000.  By the time of conversion to Chapter 7, the debtors had nearly tripled their debt.  Instead of the debtor “committing the fruit of his good fortune to his creditors” the court found the debtors’ disregard toward their obligations by spending their increased income on home improvements wrongful and warranting the court’s denial of their discharge.  In this case, the court found the debtors were not entitled to the “extraordinary benefit of discharge” as it should only be available for “the honest but unfortunate debtor”.

By: Carolyn Afari 

June 27, 2011 in Other Circuit Briefs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ethics In The Courtroom, The Female Advantage

Tuesday July 19, 2011, 5:00-6:00 PM

Location: University of West Los Angeles, School of Law
9800 S La Cienega Blvd #1200
Inglewood, CA 90301 US 

Price: $25.00 Lawyers, $10.00 Paralegals, free for law students

This program is approved for one hour bias MCLE credit.

Please email Kim Brewer for details: kbrew@uwla.edu

June 27, 2011 in Programs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Great Stuff on the Dodgers - Read All About It

Dodgers' Schedules (check out the list of the top 40 creditors; why is no one talking about what will happen to poor Manny Ramirez?)

Declaration of Dodgers' Vice President Ingram in Support of Bankruptcy Petition

June 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dodgers File Chapter 11

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
District of Delaware (Delaware)
Bankruptcy Petition #: 11-12010-KG

Assigned to: Kevin Gross
Chapter 11 Voluntary

Date filed: 06/27/2011

Los Angeles Dodgers LLC
Dodger Stadium
1000 Elysian Park Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tax ID / EIN: 20-0343133
LA Team Co. LLC

represented by Donald J. Bowman, Jr.
Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor
1000 West Street
17th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801
Email: bankfilings@ycst.com

S. Brady
Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor
The Brandywine Bldg.
1000 West Street, 17th Floor
PO Box 391
Wilmington, DE 19899-0391
Fax : 302-571-1253
Email: bankfilings@ycst.com 

June 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack