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Opinions

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 Bankruptcy 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.

For a direct link to the Western Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court on-line opinions, visit this link.

Available Decisions:

  • Chief Judge Catherine J. Furay -- 2013 - present
  • Judge Rachel M. Blise -- 2021 - present
  • Judge William V. Altenberger -- 2016 - present
  • Judge Thomas M. Lynch -- 2018 - present
  • Judge Katherine M. Perhach -- 2020 - present
  • Judge Brett H. Ludwig -- 2017 - 2020
  • Judge Robert D. Martin (retired) -- 1990 - 2016
  • Judge Thomas S. Utschig (retired) -- 1986 - 2012

Chief Judge Catherine J. Furay

Case Summary:
Joint Debtors filed a Chapter 12 petition. Later, they amended their summary of assets and liabilities as well as schedules A/B and C. The amendment detailed a claim of exemption in tools of the trade. The Debtors elected to use state exemptions, asserting a $27,500 exemption in tools of the trade under Wis. Stat. § 815.18(3)(b). Further, they sought to avoid a secured creditor’s (“Creditor”) lien on tools of the trade, arguing it impairs their exemption under 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(1)(B)(ii). Creditor objected to the avoidance action. Creditor argued that Wis. Stat. § 815.18(12) prohibits avoidance of a nonpossessory, non purchase-money security interest on tools of the trade as stated in 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(3)(B), triggering the lien avoidance cap of $6,825 per debtor in 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(3). The Debtors argued that neither subpart of § 522(f)(3) was met, making § 522(f)(3) inapplicable. Creditor argued that both subparts were met. The Court found that because Wis. Stat. § 815.18(12) does not explicitly prohibit avoidance of a nonpossessory, non purchase-money security interest on tools of the trade, the second subpart of 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(3)(B) is not met and thus the Debtors could avoid Creditor’s lien to the full extent of the exemption available under Wis. Stat. § 815.18(3)(b).

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(3) -- Exemptions
Wis. Stat. § 815.18(3)(b) -- Business and farm property
Wis. Stat. § 815.18(12) -- Limitations on exemptions

Key Terms:
Exemptions
Lien Avoidance


Case Summary:  
Plaintiffs sought a determination that the debt owed to them is nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A). Debtor opposed Plaintiff’s assertion and argued Plaintiffs were collaterally estopped. The Court found collateral estoppel was inapplicable. After a trial on the issue, the Court determined Debtor’s debt to Plaintiffs was nondischargeable because it was obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation.

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) -- False pretenses, false representation, or actual fraud

Key Terms:
Nondischargeability


Case Summary:
Plaintiffs sought a determination that the debt owed to them is nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A). Debtor opposed Plaintiff’s assertion and argued Plaintiffs were collaterally estopped. The Court found collateral estoppel was inapplicable. After a trial on the issue, the Court determined Debtor’s debt to Plaintiffs was dischargeable because Plaintiffs did not sufficiently establish Debtor’s participation in the fraudulent misrepresentation that led to incurring the debt.

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) - False pretenses, false representation, or actual fraud

Key Terms:
Nondischargeability


Judge Rachel M. Blise

Case Summary:
Debtors filed a chapter 13 plan in which they proposed to pay directly two claims that are secured by the Debtors’ vehicles. The chapter 13 trustee objected to the plan, asserting the Debtors are required to pay the claims through the Trustee based on a long-standing practice in this District. The Court rejected the Trustee’s argument that all payments to pre-petition vehicle creditors must be disbursed through the Trustee. The Court overruled the Trustee’s objection but emphasized its decision is dependent on the facts and circumstances of this particular case, including that the Debtors had proposed a 100% plan, the maturity dates for the loans were after the plan’s completion date, and there were no pre-petition arrearages on the claims.

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 1322(b) -- Contents of Plan
11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(5) -- Confirmation of Plan

Key Terms:
Direct payments


Case Summary:  
Debtors requested and obtained voluntarily dismissal of a previous chapter 13 case after their mortgage creditor requested relief from the automatic stay. They commenced another chapter 13 case less than 180 days later.  Section 109(g)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that an individual debtor who voluntary dismisses his or her case following the filing of a request for relief from the automatic stay may not file another bankruptcy case until 180 days have passed.  The Court found that the Debtors dismissed the previous case after and as a result of the mortgage creditor’s motion for relief from stay.  The Court held that it did not have discretion to allow the case to proceed under the circumstances, and that § 109(g)(2) compelled the Court to dismiss this case because the Debtors are ineligible to be debtors.

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 109(g)(2) -- Who may be a debtor

Key Terms:
Eligibility
Voluntary Dismissal


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