2018 Judge Kaplan - Opinions

Judge Michael B. Kaplan -- Opinions signed in 2018

In re: S.P. Richards Company v. Arora, 15-01894 1/16/18 (In re Suneet & Janet Arora, 14-28073)

Opinion Summary: Creditor filed motion for summary judgment seeking denial of discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 727. Based on the circumstances of the case, the Court determines that Debtors made a false oath about a fact material to the bankruptcy case, and that the false oath was made knowingly and with fraudulent intent. Accordingly, all elements of § 727(a)(4)(A) have been satisfied and denial of discharge is warranted.

In re: Brown v. Konicoff, 14-01736 6/20/2018 (In re Konicoff, 14-18373)

Opinion Summary: Debtor served as the executrix of the estate of decedent. Several months after her appointment, decedent’s children commenced state court litigation against Debtor resulting in a settlement in which Debtor agreed to return sums of money to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Debtor failed to return the money and the state court entered monetary judgment against her. Debtor then filed for bankruptcy. Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to declare the judgment nondischargeable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(4). The Court determines that the settlement documents and the state court judgments are entitled to deference under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine therefore cannot address Debtor’s challenges to the merits of those orders. Further, the Court finds that the record is sufficient to establish Debtor’s execution of the settlement in her capacity as executrix, and then her failure to abide by its terms constitutes a defalcation warranting a ruling of nondischargeability under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4). Debtor’s opposition to the motion has not created an issue of fact with respect to her intent and, instead, confirms that the Debtor possessed the requisite mental state to satisfy the standards of a nondischargeability claim under 523(a)(4). Summary Judgment granted in favor of Plaintiff.

In re: State of New Jersey, Department of Labor & Workforce Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance v. Gifford, 17-01544 9/19/2018 (In re Gifford, 17-21499)

Opinion Summary: In this adversary proceeding, Plaintiff seeks a determination that debts for unemployment benefit overpayments, penalties, and statutory interest owed by Debtor are nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A) and § 523(a)(7) of the Bankruptcy Code. Following trial, the Court determined that Debtor misrepresented her part-time employment earnings with the intent to deceive the Division; therefore, the repayment debt owed by the Debtor to Plaintiff resulting from the overpayment of benefits is nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A).


In re: Coluccio v. Sevastakis, 17-01243 9/26/2018 (In re John Sevastakis, 17-10245)

Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs entered into a contract with Debtor-Defendant for renovations and an addition to their home. Ultimately, Plaintiffs sued Debtor-Defendant in state court based on (among other things) breach of contract, negligence, conversion and violations of the NJ Consumer Fraud Act. After a bench trial, the state court found Debtor-Defendant and his company jointly and severally liable to Plaintiffs for fraud and various misrepresentations. In this adversary proceeding, Plaintiffs seek summary judgment declaring the debt owed to them nondischargeable. Debtor-Defendant filed a competing motion for summary judgment. This Court finds that the Debtor knowingly misrepresented his qualifications and obligations under the contract with the intent to deceive Plaintiffs. Accordingly, Debtor’s cross-motion for summary judgment is denied, Plaintiffs’ motion is granted, and the debt owed to Plaintiffs in the amount of $761,927.00 is nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A).



In re: Courtney v. Williams, Adv. Pro. 16-01200 10/12/2018 (In re: Williams, 15-33283)

Opinion Summary: Plaintiff law firm filed an adversary proceeding against Debtor-Defendant seeking a determination that the debt she owed to the law firm as a result of its representation of Debtor in her state matrimonial proceedings was nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A) & (B). Following trial and post-trial submissions, the Court found that Plaintiff had failed to establish the intent and reliance elements necessary to prove a claim under § 523(a)(2)(A) & (B). Accordingly, the debt was deemed dischargeable.




In re: In re: Uzzolino, 14-11429 11/2/2018

Opinion Summary: In this case, the Debtor initially failed to disclose a financial interest in a company on his bankruptcy petition, and then later sued Movants in state court alleging that he was owed approximately $14,000,000 from the sale proceeds of said company. Movants filed a motion before the Bankruptcy Court seeking to bar the Debtor from receiving any distribution under a theory of judicial estoppel. The Court found that the Movants had made this same argument before the state court, which had ruled against them and granted judgment in favor of the Debtor. Accordingly, the Bankruptcy Court held that Movants were barred from relitigating the state court judgement by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and that they were collaterally estopped from revisiting the same issue. Moreover, the Court found that had it been able to consider the matter on its merits, movants would still not have been successful because their request to override the statutory distribution scheme under § 726 exceeded the Court’s equitable authority granted under § 105.








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