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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.

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 Brett H. Ludwig--2017-present
  • Judge Robert D. Martin (retired)--1990-2016
  • Judge Thomas S. Utschig (retired)--1986-2012

Chief Judge Catherine J. Furay

Adv. Case No. 17-17, Bankr. Case No. 17-10305-13:
Plaintiff filed this adversary seeking to avoid a second mortgage on her residence. Plaintiff argued the value of her home was so low that it would not satisfy the first mortgage, and therefore there was no value to which Defendants' second mortgage could attach. Defendants disagreed with Plaintiff's valuation. The Court ruled the value of the house was high enough to satisfy the first mortgage with some left over for the second. In reaching that conclusion, the Court noted the Defendants' appraiser was more persuasive because he had experience in selling houses, rather than simply appraising them. Having found the claim was partially secured, the Court determined the lien was unavoidable.

Code Reference:
11 U.S.C. § 1322(b)(2) -- Modification of rights of secured claimants

 Bankruptcy Rule:
 Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3012 -- Valuation

 Key word:

Adv. Case No. 16-79, Bankr. Case No. 16-13134-11

The Debtor filed this adversary proceeding seeking a declaratory judgment that he was not liable to the Defendants and that the Defendants' claims were disallowed against him and the bankruptcy estate. The Debtor's father ran a Ponzi scheme through his insurance business, where Debtor had been an employee and director. The Defendants represent a small portion of the total number of individuals and families who were defrauded in that Ponzi scheme. The Defendants filed a counterclaim for a determination that their claims were nondischargeable on the ground that the Debtor was involved in the Ponzi scheme and therefore owed them a nondischargeable debt under 11 U.S.C. §§ 523(a)(2)(A) and 523(a)(6). The court granted summary judgment to the Debtor on the section 523(a)(2)(A) claim on the grounds that: (1) the Defendants failed to allege the Debtor "obtained" money through fraud, and (2) the Defendants failed to produce evidence that would show that the Debtor made any false representations, intended to commit fraud, or committed "actual fraud." The court granted summary judgment to the Debtor on the section 523(a)(6) claim on the ground that Defendants failed to produce evidence that the Debtor acted willfully and maliciously.

Code References:
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A) -- Nondischargeability - fraud
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6) -- Nondischargeability - willful and malicious injury

Key Terms:

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:






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:

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:

Adv. Case No. 17-12, Bankr. Case No. 16-13848-7

Plaintiffs filed an action against the Debtor in state court on May 13, 2009. The state court found Debtors had obtained money in violation of state securities law and issued a default judgement against them for $974,104.46. The Plaintiffs then brought this adversary seeking a determination that the state court judgment is nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19). Defendants responded that the state court judgment was invalid. The Court held the state court judgment was valid and enforceable against Debtors and nondischargeable.

Code reference:
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19) - Nondischargeability - violation of securities laws

Key terms:

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:


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


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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

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