2015 Judge Altenburg - Opinions

Judge Andrew B. Altenburg -- Opinions signed in 2015




In re: Degan - Flood, Case 13-34278, 1/9/2015

The Plaintiff filed an adversary proceeding seeking to deny the Debtors a discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(4)(A). After trial, the court concluded that the Plaintiff failed to meet his burden and the case was dismissed.


In Case No.: 12-16322-ABA, Adv. No.: 12-01879-ABA, Adv. No.: 14-01299-ABA , 1/13/2015

The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Global Protection USA, Inc. v. Susquehanna Bank (12-01879) and Andrew Sklar, Chapter 7 Trustee of the Bankruptcy Estate of Global Protection USA, Inc. v. Guarino et al. (14-01299). The main case is In re Global Protection USA (12-16322)

The court granted a temporary stay of two separate adversary proceedings when an officer of the Debtor, who is a named defendant in a pending criminal proceeding, was subpoenaed as a witness in one adversary proceeding and as a party in another. The court based its findings on the following facts: (i) putting the subpoenaed officer on the stand would greatly delay the proceedings since the officer would repeatedly invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination throughout the trials and in the pleadings, requiring the court, upon objection, to rule on each and every invocation of that privilege; (ii) the resolution of the criminal proceeding could resolve issues implicated in the adversary proceedings; (iii) the court could possibly draw adverse inferences from the officer’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege; and (iv) the other defendants would not be able to adequately defend themselves without the officer’s complete testimony.


In re: Crane, Case 14-30248, 4/21/2015

The court reviewed the submissions of the parties and determined that an obligation to pay medical expenses, in the form of health insurance payments, was a nondischargeable domestic support obligation entitled to priority treatment.



In re: Oakey, Case 14-32685, 7/22/2015

As a federal agency, the Social Security Administration was entitled to offset the Debtor’s prepetition federal tax overpayments against the prepetition debts the Debtor owed to the Social Security Administration, but it was required to obtain relief from the automatic stay before doing so. The Debtor was entitled to fair and reasonable attorneys’ fees to compensate for the violation of the automatic stay.




In re: Thayer, Case 13-19815, 8/24/2015

Surety filed adversary proceeding seeking nondischargeability under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4) and (7)  of its claim against debtor bail bondsman based on bail bond forfeitures, unremitted premium payments for bail bond powers of attorney and unreported bail bond powers of attorney. The court held that the surety failed to show that the debtor's actions did not rise to the level of scienter required under Bullock v. BankChampaign, N.A., 133 S. Ct. 1754 (2013), for purposes of section 523(a)(4), and that the surety was not a governmental unit for purposes of section 523(a)(7).





In re: Robert Okey, Case 14-32685, 9/9/2015

The court considered the debtor's request for attorney fees in connection with its successful motion for violation of the automatic stay against the Social Security Administration (the "SSA"). The court rejected the SSA's response that attempted to have the court reconsider its original decision, as well as its argument that the debtor did not suffer an injury by the stay violation. It noted that the SSA did not specify how any time spent on the motion was excessive. In limiting the attorney fee award to four hours at $300 per hour, the court explained that the debtor did not raise the stay violation until in response to the SSA's motion for relief from the stay, and that by that time, the SSA had returned the funds garnished, yet the debtor's attorney did not attempt to mitigate its costs in what was not a complex matter.




In re: Jamison, Case 15-01198; In re: Bogan, Case 14-01943; In re: Hill, Case 15-01338, 9/18/2015

Petition preparer should be permanently enjoined from serving as a bankruptcy petition preparer because he has engaged in repeated and flagrant violations of section 110, including indulging in fraudulent and deceptive conduct, and because that his past behavior, failure to comply with previous court orders, his failure to participate in the adversary proceedings, and his continued abuses despite the pending adversary proceedings, indicate that a permanent injunction is warranted. Monetary sanctions are also warranted.

In re: Spraggins; Case 13-28807; In re: Cheatham, Case 14-29130; In re: Prendergast, Case 14-35351, 9/3/2015

Under Harris v. Viegelahn, 135 S. Ct. 1829 (2015), funds on hand in a converted chapter 13 must be returned to the debtor rather than to pay administrative expenses.


In re: Renzulli v. Ullman; Case 15-01983 11/23/2015

Constructive trusts are a claim as defined under the Bankruptcy Code. Constructive trusts are not property of the estate. Nevertheless, a debtor's bare legal title invokes the automatic stay.









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