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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 Brett H. Ludwig -- 2017 - present
  • Judge Thomas M. Lynch -- 2018 - present
  • Judge Katherine M. Perhach -- 2020 - present
  • Judge Robert D. Martin (retired) -- 1990 - 2016
  • Judge Thomas S. Utschig (retired) -- 1986 - 2012

Judge Thomas S. Utschig

Case Summary:
Debtors' motion to avoid lien on automobile, snowmobile and business inventory pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) is denied.  General rule in this jurisdiction is that liens on automobiles cannot be avoided.  Citing In re Nowak, 48 B.R. 290 (W.D. Wis. 1984).  Snowmobile does not constitute "tool of trade" for debtors' snowmobile repair business.  Evidence showed snowmobile racing was not bona fide business of debtors.  Citing In re Weinbrenner, 53 B.R. 571 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 1985).  Business inventory held for sale does not constitute "tool of trade" of debtors.  Such inventory is not "tool" or "implement" within meaning commonly ascribed to those words.  Debtors may avoid liens on actual tools and implements used in their repair business.
Debtor's wife is found to be engaged in debtors' business and can therefore exercise lien avoidance pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f).  Citing In re Flake, 33 B.R. 275 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 1983)

Statue/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 522(f) -- Lien Avoidance

Key Terms:
Lien Avoidance


Case Summary:
Defendant Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Tribe's request for extension of time to appeal judgment entered November 7, 1986, is denied.  Bankruptcy Rule 8002(c) governs extensions of time for appeal.  Defendant filed request for extension within 20 days after deadline for such requests.  Bankruptcy Rule 8002(c) allows for grant of request for extension of time filed within 20 days of deadline upon showing of excusable neglect.  Defendant made no such showing; request is accordingly denied.

Statue/Rule References:
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002 -- Time for Filing Notice of Appeal

Key Terms:
Extension of Time


Case Summary:
Application of debtor's attorney for allowance of fees and costs totaling $62,988.25 as an administrative expense is denied.  Debtor's chapter 11 plan was confirmed on November 26, 1984.  Case was converted to chapter 7 on March 21, 1986.  Debtor's assets were sold at auction on July 16, 1986; auction proceeds totaled $296,718.50.  All property sold at auction was subject to valid, unavoided security interests.  Security interests attached to proceeds of auction pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 552(b).  11 U.S.C. §§ 725 and 726 and bankruptcy rule 6007 specify how property of estate is to be distributed.  It is unlikely that there is any equity in remaining property above claims of secured creditors.  While applicant attorney may well have valid administrative claim pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 503, there are no assets available for distribution toward such claims.  Should unsecured assets later become available, they would be distributed in accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 726.

Statue/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 503 -- Administrative Expenses
11 U.S.C. § 725 -- Disposition of Certain Property
11 U.S.C. § 726 -- Distribution of Property of Estate
11 U.S.C. § 552 -- Postpetition Effect of Security Interest
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 6007 -- Abandonment and Distribution of Property of Estate

Key Terms:
Administrative Expenses
Attorney Fees
Security Interests - Attachment


Case Summary:
Disclaimer executed by debtor on July 1, 1983 -- nearly two years prior to her bankruptcy filing on June 18, 1985 -- did not constitute a fraudulent conveyance pursuant to § 242.04 or § 242.07 of the Wisconsin Statutes.  Debtor executed disclaimer pursuant to § 853.40 of the Wisconsin Statutes, effectively disclaiming any interest she was entitled to receive as a beneficiary of decedent's will.  "Disclaimer" is not included in statutory definition of "conveyance" contained in § 242.01(2) of Wisconsin Statutes.  Section 853.40(7) of the Wisconsin Statutes sets forth three ways in which individual's right to disclaim is barred.  Insolvency is not one of them.  Trustee presented no evidence that waiver was result of improper inducement or collusion by which debtor received improper benefit.  Fact that devised property will vest in another family member does not constitute improper benefit.

Statue/Rule References:
Wis. Stat. § 242 -- Fraudulent Conveyance
Wis. Stat. § 853.40 -- Disclaimer

Key Terms:
Disclaimer
Fraudulent Conveyance


Case Summary:
Debtor's motion to dismiss plaintiff's Section 523 adversary proceeding is denied for failure to timely file supportive legal memorandum.

Key Terms:
Dismissal


Case Summary:
Motion requesting extension of time to file appeal from bankruptcy court order -- filed more than 20 days after district court dismissed appeal as untimely filed -- is itself untimely and is therefore denied.

Key Terms:
Extension of Time


Case Summary:
Creditor bank's objection to debtor's claim of exemption is denied.  Debtors, though married, are each entitled to their own exemptions under Wis. Stat. § 815.18(6) -- the state statute exempting small tools and farm implements.  $300 limitation in § 815.18(6) applies only to "small tools and implements" language and not to all of the items in the statute up to the previous semicolon.

Statue/Rule References:
Wis. Stat. § 815.18 -- Exemptions

Key Terms:
Exemptions


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