You are here

Opinions

Please Note: We are in the process of moving our opinions from an older site to our current site. This process may take some time. If you don't find the opinion  you are looking for here, please check our old site. Thank you for your patience while we make the transition.

The Western District of Wisconsin offers a database of opinions for the years 1986 to present, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter a keyword, statute, rule or case number in the search box above.

Opinions are also available on the Government Printing Office website for Appellate, District and Bankrupty cases. The content of this collection dates back to April 2004, though searchable electronic holdings for some courts may be incomplete for this earlier time period.

Available Decisions:

  • Chief Judge Catherine J. Furay--2013-present
  • Judge William V. Altenberger--2016-present
  • Judge Brett H. Ludwig--2017-present
  • Judge Robert D. Martin (retired)--1990-2016
  • Judge Thomas S. Utschig (retired)--1986-2012

Chief Judge Catherine J. Furay

Bankr. Case Nos. 16-12820-11 & 16-12821-11 (jointly administered)
 
Prior to filing this Chapter 11, Debtor entered into a Loan Agreement with Sabra Phoenix Wisconsin, LLC. The loan provided the Debtor with financing necessary for the completion of a construction project. Simultaneously with the Loan Agreement, Debtor and Sabra Phoenix entered into an Option Agreement. Debtor subsequently filed in bankruptcy and Sabra filed a proof of claim for $17,773,438.77, which included damages for Debtor's alleged breach of the Option Agreement. The Debtor objected to the claim insofar as it sought damages related to the Option. The Court granted Debtor's objection and determined that Sabra was not entitled to a claim for breach of the Option Agreement. In so holding, the Court found that the Option served as additional security for the Loan Agreement, that there was insufficient consideration in the transaction, that the Option impermissibly clogged Weston's right of redemption of its mortgage, and that the Option Agreement was unconscionable.
 
     Code Reference:
     11 U.S.C. § 502 -- Allowance of claims or interests

     Key Terms:
     ADDITIONAL SECURITY
    CLOGGING THE RIGHT OF REDEMPTION
    CONSIDERATION
    UNCONSCIONABILITY

 

Adv. Case No. 16-79, Bankr. Case No. 16-13134-11
 
Debtor filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition on September 12, 2016. He filed an adversary complaint on September 14, 2016, against Defendants David J. and Gale I. Groth, David J. and Judith A. Heinecke, James G. Pritchard, John W. and Patricia Tesch, and Barbara L. Wegner (collectively as the "State Court Plaintiffs") seeking a declaratory judgment that he is not liable to these individuals, that their claims be disallowed, and that any debt owed to them is dischargeable. The State Court Plaintiffs filed an Answer and Counterclaim to the Debtor's Complaint. They seek a determination that under 11 U.S.C. §§ 523(a)(2), (a)(6), and (a)(19) that certain debts are nondischargeable. The State Court Plaintiffs filed a motion requesting that the Court abstain from determining issues related to liability under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19), or in the alternative that a non-bankruptcy tribunal must determine liability under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19). The Court denied the State Court Plaintiffs' motion for permissive abstention. In addition, the Court sided with the growing number of bankruptcy courts that reason section 523(a)(19)'s plain language does not divest the Court from fully adjudicating liability, damages, and exception to discharge in a section 523(a)(19)-based adversary proceeding.
 
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19) -- Nondischargeability - violation of securities laws
28 U.S.C. § 1334 -- Abstention
 
Key terms:
ABSTENTION
 
 

Bankr. Case No. 17-10248-13
Debtor purchased a new Dodge Ram truck. As part of the purchase, she traded in a Chevrolet Silverado. Debtor owed more on the Silverado than its trade-in value, resulting in negative equity of $6,343.65, which she included in the financing of the new Dodge Ram. Members Cooperative Credit Union held a purchase money security interest in the Dodge Ram, and filed a proof of claim in Debtor's bankruptcy. The parties agreed the Dodge Ram was purchased within 910 days prior to Debtor's bankruptcy petition. Debtor objected to the Credit Union's claim seeking to cram down the amount of the Credit Union's to the value of the Dodge Ram. Following the Seventh Circuit's decision in In re Howard, 597 F.3d 852 (7th Cir. 2010), the Court overruled the Debtor's objection concluding a purchase money security interest in a vehicle includes negative equity.
11 U.S.C. § 506(a) -- Determination of secured status
11 U.S.C. § 1325(a) -- Confirmation of plan - 910-day hanging paragraph
Key terms:
CRAMDOWN
NEGATIVE EQUITY
 
 

Adv. Case No. 16-89, Bankr. Case No. 14-13435-7
 
Debtor filed a Chapter 13 petition on August 7, 2014. The Court entered a final decree on January 21, 2015. On August 4, 2016, Debtor moved to reopen her bankruptcy and filed the present adversary case to unwind the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) prepetition setoff of her social security disability benefits. The Court concluded under 11 U.S.C. § 553(b) that the SSA improved its insufficient position during the 90-day setoff period prescribed under the statute.
 
Code References:
11 U.S.C. § 553 -- Setoff
11 U.S.C. § 522(h) -- Exemptions
Key Terms:
SETOFF
 

Bankr. Case No. 16-12464-7
 

 

Debtor filed a voluntary Chapter 7 petition on July 18, 2016. The Trustee entered a Final Report on December 20, 2016. Creditor Lakeview Care Partners objected to the Trustee’s Final Report seeking a Court Order to disapprove the report and require the Trustee to pursue collection of its debt from the Debtor’s ex-spouse. Lakeview argued the debt was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(15). Pursuant to a marital settlement agreement, the Debtor’s ex-spouse was assigned the Lakeview debt. The ex-spouse filed bankruptcy on December 29, 2016. She received a discharge of her Lakeview debt on April 25, 2016. The instant Debtor also listed Lakeview as a creditor on his Schedules. The Court held the debt to Lakeview was dischargeable. The ex-spouse incurred a “new debt” when the state court granted the marital settlement agreement. Her debt to Lakeview was discharged with her bankruptcy. Similarly, when the Debtor received a discharge, his liability on that same debt was also discharged.

 

11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(5) – Nondischargeability – divorce decrees

 

11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(15) – Nondischargeability – marital obligations

 

Key Terms:

MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

NONDISCHARGEABLE DEBT

Adv. Case No. 16-41, Bankr. Case No. 15-14093-13
 
Plaintiffs/debtors filed an adversary complaint against servicer Beneficial Financial I Inc. (“Beneficial”) alleging Beneficial impermissibly transferred servicing of their note and mortgage in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act’s (“RESPA”) notice requirements. Following a foreclosure judgment, the Plaintiffs stated that they attempted to contact Beneficial to negotiate a workout agreement on their second mortgage. Beneficial assumed servicing of the Plaintiffs’ second note and mortgage when it acquired and/or merged with Beneficial Financial Wisconsin Inc. In addition, the Plaintiffs argued that Beneficial improperly and fraudulently denied it owned or serviced their loan, which constituted a violation under Wis. Stat. § 224.77(1)(m). That state law makes it unlawful for a mortgage banker to engage in improper, fraudulent or dishonest dealing. Beneficial moved for summary judgment. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Beneficial because the Plaintiffs did not present any evidence that they sustained actual damages.
Code References:
12 U.S.C. § 2605(b) – Servicing of Mortgage Loans - notice of transferor of loan servicing at time of transfer
12 U.S.C. § 2605(f) – Servicing of Mortgage Loans - damages and costs
12 C.F.R. § 1024.33(b) – Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act – notices of transfer of loan servicing
Wisconsin Statutes:
Wis. Stat. § 224.77 -- Prohibited acts and practices of mortgage bankers, mortgage loan originators, mortgage brokers
Wis. Stat. § 224.80 – Penalties and private cause of action
Key Terms:
RESPA

Adv. Case No. 17-2, Bankr. Case No. 16-13326-7
 
Plaintiffs filed an adversary complaint against debtor seeking an exception to discharge under 11 U.S.C. §§ 523(a)(2) and (a)(6). The Plaintiffs moved the Court to permissively abstain under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(c)(1). The Plaintiffs agreed that whether a debt is nondischargeable in a bankruptcy case is a “core” proceeding as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(I). The Court concluded that since the Plaintiffs’ Complaint raised issues of nondischargeability under 11 U.S.C. § 523, it had authority to decide the issue of dischargeability. Since Stern v. Marshall, 564 U.S. 462 (2011), the United States Supreme Court in Wellness Int’l Network, Ltd. v. Sharif, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 1932 (2015), clarified that bankruptcy courts are permitted to adjudicate liability and damages existing under non-bankruptcy law provided the parties consent to the court’s jurisdiction. The Court concluded it had both jurisdictional and constitutional authority to determine whether there was a non-dischargeable debt.
Code References:
28 U.S.C. § 1334 -- Abstention
28 U.S.C. § 157(a)\

Key Word:
Abstention

Adv. Case No. 16-25, Bankr. Case No. 16-10249-7
 
Plaintiff Hellenbrand Glass, LLC filed an adversary complaint seeking a determination that a debt evidenced by a state court judgment was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4). The parties filed a stipulation agreeing inter alia that $15,457.03 was nondischargeable. They also stipulated that the state court trebled this amount pursuant to Wis. Stat §§ 895.446 and 943.20. The only issue before the court was whether the treble damage portion of the debt was dischargeable. The parties agreed there were no material issues of fact and the court ordered briefs. To resolve the state court action, the Plaintiff and Debtor Scott G. Pulvermacher entered into a settlement agreement intending to resolve the Plaintiff’s claim for theft by contractor Plaintiff. The court concluded that the trust created by Wis. Stat. § 779.02(5) establishes the type of express statutory trust contemplated by 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4). Accordingly, the court found the entire debt nondischargeable reasoning a party’s breach of a settlement agreement disposing of the underlying action does not erase the history of the debt’s origin.
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4) -- Nondischargeability - fraud or defalcation in fiduciary capacity
Wis. Stat. § 779.02(5) -- Theft by contractor
Wis. Stat. § 895.446 -- Action for property damage or loss
Wis. Stat. § 943.20 -- Theft

Pages