Bankr. W.D.N.C.: In re Bronikowski- Employment Bonus is an Expectation of Payment not Contingent Interest

Summary:

Ms. Bronikowski disclosed a potential employment bonus in her November 11, 2016, bankruptcy petition, asserting that it was not an asset of her bankruptcy estate, as the award of the bonus was at the complete discretion of the employer, and, in the alternative and out of caution, claimed it as exempt as wages of the debtor under N.C.G.S. § 1-362. The Trustee objected to the exemption and argued that the potential employment bonus was a contingent interest and asset of the estate.

After a thorough review of case from across the country, the bankruptcy court held “that the discretion of the employer is the most important consideration for determining whether an anticipated bonus is property of the estate.” See Klein-Swanson, 488 B.R. 628 (B.A.P. 8th Cir., 2013); Sharp v. Dery, 253 B.R. 204, 207 (E.D. Mich. 2000); Mendelsohn v. Gonzalez (In re Gonzalez), 559 B.R. 326, 331 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2016); Vogel v. Palmer (In re Palmer), 57 B.R. 332, 333 (Bankr. W.D. Va. 1986). That complete discretion rendered the potential employment bonus a mere hope or expectation and not a contingent interest. Additional considerations include that Ms. Bronikowski was required to maintain employment to remain eligible for any bonus. Since the potential employment bonus was not an asset of the estate, the bankruptcy court did not need to consider the aptness of the claimed exemption.

For a copy of the opinion, please see:

Bronikowski- Employment Bonus is an Expectation of Payment not Contingent Interest

About

1. Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Washington University, 1993. 2. Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University, 1996. Admissions to Practice of Law: North Carolina Bar, 1996. Federal District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of North Carolina. Specialty Certification: North Carolina State Bar: Certified as a Specialist in Consumer Bankruptcy. Areas of Practice: Practice limited to consumer and business debtor bankruptcy law, 1998 to present. Memberships: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (NCATL). North Carolina Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section. Lectures prepared and presented: North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers seminar on bankruptcy; Topic: Counseling the Consumer Debtor Prior to Court - C.Y.A. Forms to Help 'Gird They Loins'; 2001. Middle District Bankruptcy Seminar; Topic: Preparing Chapter 13 Plans; 2002. NACBA National Convention; Topic: Efficient Office Practices; 2003. NACBA National Convention; Topic: Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Debates; 2004. Middle District Bankruptcy Seminar; Topic: Chapter 7 & 13 Hot Issues; 2004. Positions held: NACBA National Convention; Convention Chair; 2008. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator: Topic: Basic Bankruptcy Issues; 2008. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator; Topic: Chapter 13-Disposable Income and Other Issues; 2007. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator; Topic: Representing Members of the Military and Their Families; 2007. NACBA, Member of National Board of Directors, 2006 to present. NCATL, Chair of the Bankruptcy Section, 2003 to 2007. NACBA, Chair of the North Carolina Section, 2003 to 2007. NC Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section, Bankruptcy Council Member, 2004 to present.

Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply