Lendmark financed the purchase and installation of an HVAC unit for Ms. Hudgins’ home. All parties agreed that the HVAC unit was a “consumer good” as defined by N.C.G.S. § 25-9-102, that Lendmark held an automatically perfected purchase money security interest in the HVAC as chattel pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 25-9-309(1) and that Lendmark did not record a fixture filing.
The Trustee argued that without the fixture filing Lendmark’s security interest fell to the hypothetical judgment lien creditor status of bankruptcy estate under 11 U.S.C. § 544. Lendmark countered that its perfected lien against the HVAC as a consumer good was not lost when it became a fixture.… Read More
Mr. and Mrs. Foley each had several life insurance policies which named as the beneficiary a testamentary trust created by virtually identical wills. These directed the estate trustee to use any income and principal from the trust “for the health, maintenance and support” of the surviving spouse or subsequently their son. A later provision, however, authorized the trustee to “compromise claims”. Based on this provision, the bankruptcy trustee objected to the Foley’s claimed exemption.
The bankruptcy court started from the position that exemptions are to be liberally construed in favor of the debtor, see Elmwood v. Elmwood, 295 N.C. 168, 185, 244 S.E.2d 668, 678 (1978) (citing Goodwin v.… Read More
After the filing of her Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Debtor found a cashier’s check payable to her ex-husband in the amount of $11,000.00. This check was not listed as an asset in the Debtor’s schedules, but her ex-husband was listed as holding a priority claim for $0.00 for alimony. The Debtor contended that this was for unpaid alimony and her ex-husband, in fact, had the sole allowed DSO priority claim for $15,000.00 in the case. The Debtor argued that the cashier’s check was not an asset of the bankruptcy estate and that it would be more efficient and maximize the amount received creditors, namely her ex-husband, if the cashier’s check was simply tendered to him.… Read More
In her Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, Crawford listed several parcels of real property as “held” for other parties, when, in fact, these parcels (and two additional undisclosed parcels) were hers. Crawford also did not disclose in her Statement of Affairs that prior to filing her case, she had received $80,000 in insurance proceeds from a robbery, using $47,500 to pay debts to friends and family. $7500 of that amount was actually sham transaction as were other funds deposited into undisclosed bank accounts used by Crawford.
Considering the cumulative weight of these non-disclosures, the bankruptcy court denied Crawford’s discharge pursuant ton 11 U.S.C.… Read More
In order to provide for attorney’s fees and allow for filing of a Chapter 7, Mr. Pace’s attorney took a voluntary lien against Mr. Pace’s motorcycle and boat for pre- and post-petition services.
The court reviewed this arrangement, finding that taking a lien for pre-petition services is not expressly prohibited, but strongly discouraged by the Bankruptcy Code and subject to “heightened scrutiny of the propriety of this type of fee agreement.” Under North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8, a lien is permitted if the following safeguards are provided:
(1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing in a manner that can be reasonably understood by the client;
(2) the client is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel on the transaction; and
(3) the client gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client, to the essential terms of the transaction and the lawyer’s role in the transaction, including whether the lawyer is representing the client in the transaction.… Read More
PHH Mortgage assessed $472.25 in post-petition fees against the Debtor’s loan, but did not file and serve a notice pursuant to Rule 3002.1(c) of these fees within 180 days, asserting that these fees were not presently recoverable against the Debtor or their residence and will not be collectible unless the Debtors’ Chapter 13 case was dismissed or converted. PHH asserted that it was required by N.C.G.S. § 45-91 to send notice to the Debtors of these fees, even if not currently intended to be collected.
The bankruptcy court rejected this argument, finding that Rule 3002.1 applied to these fees as “[a]sserting a fee has been charged and then making a conditional promise to waive the fee if certain conditions are met is still an assertion of a fee as recoverable.” Further, as both the Supremacy Clause and N.C.G.S.… Read More
Debtors sought authority to quitclaim their previous residence in Florida to the SBA, which held a mortgage against the property but had declined to foreclose.
The bankruptcy court first held that 11 U.S.C. § 1325(a), while property may be “surrendered”, the Bankruptcy Code does not define that term but it has “has been described as the relinquishment of all rights in property, including the right to possess the collateral.” IRS v. White (In re White), 487 F.3d 199, 205 (4th Cir. 2007); 8 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 1325.06 (Alan N. Resnick & Henry J. Sommer eds., 15th ed. 2005). This relinquishment of rights by the debtor does not, however have a “corresponding requirement that the lender to do anything with the property” and that a creditor has the right to control its remedies.… Read More
In the bankruptcy of Garlock Sealing Technology, allegations were raised that national counsel for mesothelioma victims had engaged in fraud, deceit, and other activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, in settling their clients’ claims. After the bankruptcy judge ordered the hearing closed, Legal Newsline filed an emergency motion to keep the hearing at which these issues were raised open to the media and the public.
Following Media General Operations, Inc. v. Buchanan, 417 F.3d 424, 431 (4th Cir. 2005), the district court held that sealing the hearing and documents “shifted the presumption that favors open courts to a presumption favoring the closure of proceedings based on confidentiality designations by counsel, improvidently shifting the burden to the public and the press to disprove the contours of a need to seal which has also not been described.” In restricting public access to a hearing or documents, a court is required to “state the reasons for its decision to seal supported by specific findings, and the reasons for rejecting alternatives to sealing to provide this court with sufficient information for meaningful appellate review.” Media General Operations, Inc.… Read More
The Debtor’s great uncle Jennings had, in his waning years, received care and assistance from the Debtor and transferred his Rock Hill, S.C. home to her. When she filed bankruptcy, the Debtor asserted that Jennings was her dependent and claimed the property as exempt under N.C.G.S. § 1C-1601(a)(1). Less than three months after her bankruptcy was filed, Jennings died.
Sustaining the Trustee’s objection to the Debtor’s claimed homestead exemption, the bankruptcy court held that while the Debtor had provided sporadic assistance with paying his bills, “what she gave to Jennings was not financial support, but rather, care.” Relying on In re Preston.… Read More