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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 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:
Debtors dismissed their Chapter 13 case while an adversary proceeding initiated by Plaintiffs was pending. Debtor defendants argued that although the Court had the ability to retain jurisdiction of the adversary proceeding, it should exercise its discretion and dismiss the adversary. The Plaintiffs argued jurisdiction should be retained because of the substantial time the parties had devoted to the issue. The Court found that the considerations of retention (i.e., judicial economy, federal interest, effect of the proceeding on the bankruptcy case) did not weigh in favor of the Court retaining jurisdiction. The Court found that the remaining issues were solely state law claims and the adversary proceeding had not advanced to a point where it would be unfair to the parties to litigate the matter in state court as exhibits had not been filed and a hearing had not yet occurred. The Court exercised its discretion and dismissed the adversary proceeding.

Key Terms:
Federal Interest
Judicial Economy
Jurisdiction of Adversary Proceedings
Retaining Jurisdiction


Case Summary:
Debtor, for the second time, moved for reconsideration of the Court’s decision to approve the Trustee’s motion to sell property free and clear of liens and encumbrances. Just as in the first motion to reconsider, Debtor asserted that, although he was present on the phone, he was muted and so his questions and statements were not addressed. Debtor also, again, challenged the validity of the state court judgment against him. At the hearing referenced by the Debtor, his attorney was present and withdrew the objection to the motion. The Trustee’s motion was then approved. The Court, as a courtesy, heard Debtor’s first motion to reconsider and allowed the Debtor to voice his questions and concerns. The Court, after considering the Debtor’s position, denied the motion. The second motion for reconsideration repeats the same grounds as the first motion. The second reconsideration motion was denied.

Statute/Rule References:
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7054

Key Terms:
Reconsideration


Case Summary:
Plaintiffs sought a determination that the debt owed to them is nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A). Debtor moved to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12, made applicable by Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7012. He asserted the complaint failed to state a cause of action and the Plaintiffs were collaterally estopped.  The Debtor also filed various affidavits. Plaintiffs responded to the motion with supporting affidavits. The submission of affidavits and documents converted the motion to dismiss to a summary judgment motion (pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 56, made applicable by Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7056). The Court further determined collateral estoppel did not apply because the state court did not address Plaintiffs’ causes of action for fraud and misrepresentation. The motion was denied.

Statute/Rule References:
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7012 -- Judgment on the Pleadings
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7056 -- Summary Judgment

Key Terms:
Collateral Estoppel
Conversion of Motion to Dismiss
Issue Preclusion
Summary Judgment


Case Summary:
Debtors filed a motion for contempt and sanctions against University of Wisconsin-Stout for violating the final discharge order in their Chapter 7. The parties disagreed whether the unpaid tuition had been discharged. The District Court found the unpaid tuition was not a qualified educational loan and remanded for further findings. Creditor appealed to the Seventh Circuit, but the appeal was dismissed as an appeal of an interlocutory order and thus not final. Bound by the decision of the District Court, the Court determined that, under Taggart, sanctions could not be awarded because the offending creditor had a fair ground of doubt to conclude that their conduct was not barred by the discharge injunction. The Court also concluded that even if sanctions were appropriate, the Debtors would only be entitled to the return of the seized tax refund because there was no indication on the record what other damages Debtors may have incurred, and the Creditor was immune from an award of punitive damages.

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 105(a) -- Contempt Power
11 U.S.C. § 106 -- Sovereign Immunity
11 U.S.C. § 524(a) -- Discharge Injunction

Key Terms:
Contempt
Discharge Injunction
Sanctions
Taggart Standard


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