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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 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

Judge Robert D. Martin

Case No. 98-36236-7

This adversary proceeding was brought by the trustee against Farmers Bank to determine the validity of Farmers Bank’s security interest in proceeds from crop support contracts between debtors and the USDA.  The parties reached a stipulated resolution.  In exchange, Farmers Bank released its claim on proceeds that had been paid to the estate and the trustee agreed to assist Farmers Bank in securing unpaid proceeds that the USDA had refused to pay.  The USDA was then joined.  The USDA argued that the PFC contracts were rejected and deemed that rejection a breach of the PFC contracts, which entitled the USDA to treat the contracts as void.  The trustee and Farmers Bank argued that the PFC contracts were abandoned in the chapter 11 case, leaving nothing to be rejected either before or after the case was converted.  The PFC contracts were abandoned by a proper order in the chapter 11 case.  That abandonment removed the contracts from the chapter 11 estate and ended the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction over them.  The abandoned status of the contracts was not altered by the conversion of the case to chapter 7.  The effect of abandonment was to return all parties to the PFC contracts to their legal positions prior to the bankruptcy filing.

11 U.S.C. § 348 -- Conversion
11 U.S.C. § 365 -- Executory contracts\
11 U.S.C. § 541 -- Property of the estate

Case No. 00-34046-13

 

Shortly before debtor filed for bankruptcy he filed his federal income tax return for the previous year and was entitled to a refund. Approximately one month after the tax return was filed, the IRS applied the refund to debtor's 1993 federal income tax deficiency. The IRS filed a proof of claim for unsecured priority (for 1995 and 1996) and non-priority ( for 1993 and 1994) taxes due. Debtor then brought this adversary proceeding seeking to reallocate the funds set off by the IRS and objecting to its claim of priority for the 1995 taxes. The parties agreed tht the IRS had a valid right to setoff under § 553(a). Debtor contends that it is inequitable to permit the IRS to setoff against non-priority debts, rather than priority debts, because this gives teh IRS a preference over other general creditors. However, a setoff under § 553 is a preference condoned under the Code and an exception to the bankruptcy principle of equal distribution among creditors. It was determined that the IRS had properly exercised its ability to offset in this case. It was further determined that because the due date for the debtor's 1995 tax return fell outside the three year period preceding his bankruptcy case, the 1995 taxes would ordinarily not be entitled to priority under § 507(a)(8). There was an added wrinkle in the case, however, since the debtor had previously filed bankruptcy in 1996 and was discharged in 1997. The IRS argued that the three-year period of § 507(a)(8) was tolled during the period of the prior bankruptcy case and for an additional six months thereafter. It was determined that § 6503(h) is given effect by § 108(c) and that the two provisions operate jointly to toll the three-year period in § 507(a)(8) when the taxpayer's assets are tied up in a court proceeding. It was further determined that the 1995 taxes are entitled to priority under § 507(a)(8).

 

11 U.S.C. § 108(c)

11 U.S.C. § 507(a)(8)

11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(1)(A) -- Nondischargeability - taxes

11 U.S.C. § 553 -- Setoff

26 U.S.C. § 6402(a) -- General Rule

26 U.S.C. § 6503(h) -- Cases under title 11 of the United States Code

Case No. 99-13921-13

 

Bank moved for stay relief under § 362(d)(1) claiming a lack of adequate protection of its interest in the stock it held under a pledge by debtor as collateral for a letter of credit, which it sought to liquidate. Bank argued lack of adequate protection principally because the stock may depreciate in value. Bank held a contingent secured claim as the DNR may demand an undetermined amount under the letter of credit. Once the DNR draw is made, Bank has the right to reimbursement from the proceeds of stocks pledged by debtor. Bank also sought relief under § 362(d)(2) and bears the initial burden of proving debtor has no equity in the stock. The presence of equity depends on the draw by the DNR under the letter of credit. It was found that because there is no part of the stock's value that is free from the contingent claim of Bank as of the date of the petition, debtor had no equity for purposes of § 362(d)(2)(A). It was also found that the maintenance of the stock was a benefit of the creditors as the cost of disposition to debtor would include a potentially substantial tax liability that would have to be paid as post-petition indebtedness which would certainly jeopardize debtor's ability to make payments on pre-petition debts. Although there may be a certain inevitablity to that expense, to permit Bank to accelerate the crisis by selling the stock before it lacks adequate protection and before the DNR draws on the letter of credit would undermine the feasibility of the plan. Bank's relief from stay was denied.

 

11 U.S.C. § 361 -- Adequate Protection

11 U.S.C. § 362(d) -- Relief from stay

11 U.S.C. § 362(g)(1)

11 U.S.C § 506(a) -- Determination of secured status

11 U.S.C. § 506(d) -- Lien valuation and strip down

11 U.S.C. § 1121(b)

11 U.S.C. § 1121(c)(2)

11 U.S.C. § 1322 -- Mortgage protection

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

11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(5)

Case No. 99-33728-7

Debtor stipulated to judgment of divorce assigning certain marital debts to each party, including a waiver of maintenance by debtor in exchange for Section 71 payments from ex-spouse. The stipulation also set forth that the Section 71 payments could not be modified unless one party dies or the debtor received an award for child support. When debtor failed to pay her debts from the divorce judgement, ex-spouse filed contempt proceedings in state court. Ex-spouse was awarded judgment of the unpaid debts from the divorce judgment, among other awards. Debtor then sought Chapter 7 relief and subsequently received her discharge. Almost a year later the ex-spouse petitioned the state court to revise the divorce judgment requesting a reduction of the Section 71 payments to reflect debtor's non-payment of bills which were imposed upon him as a result of debtor's bankruptcy. Debtor filed a motion to reopen her case in order to bring a contempt motion and leave was granted. It was found that the ex-spouse was estopped from moving to modify the Section 71 payments. It was also found that the ex-spouse was attempting to enforce a discharged debt and was sanctioned under § 524 for debtor's actual costs incurred in enforcing the discharge injunction of her bankruptcy.

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