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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 -- 1990 - 2016
  • Judge Thomas S. Utschig -- 1986 - 2012
  • Judge William H. Frawley -- 1973 - 1986

Judge Robert D. Martin

Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 541 -- Property of the Estate
13 U.S.C. § 522(b) -- Exemptions - State
Wis. Stat. § 816.08 -- Property to be Applied to Judgment

Key Terms:
Exemptions


Statute/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 101(6) -- Community Claim
Wis. Stat. § 766.01 -- Marital Property
Wis. Stat. § 766.55(3) -- Marital Property

Key Terms:
Garnishment
Marital Property


Statute/Rule References:

11 U.S.C. § 544 -- Trustee as Lien Creditor
11 U.S.C. § 547 -- Preferences
11 U.S.C. § 552 -- Postpetition Effect of Security Interest
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1009 -- Amendment of Petition and Schedules
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3002(c) -- Time for Filing Proof of Claim
Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7012 -- Dismissal for Failure to State Cause of Action

Key Terms:
Claims
Letters of Credit
Mortgages - Interpretation
Preferences
Rents and Profits
Rule Against Perpetuities
Taxes


Judge Thomas S. Utschig

Case Summary:
Trustee's motion for turnover of property of the estate pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 542(b) against bank which had issued letter of credit in favor of debtor is denied.  Agreement between debtor and bank called for bank to fund the unfunded portion of a promissory note upon fulfillment of certain conditions precedent by the debtor.  Although agreement is found to constitute an executory contract pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 365, it is not assumable by the trustee due to the exception contained in 11 U.S.C. § 365(c)(2) -- the agreement constitutes "[a] contract to make a loan, or extend other debt financing or financial accommodations, to or for the benefit of the debtor, or to issue a security of the debtor."

Statue/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 365 -- Executory Contracts
11 U.S.C. § 542 -- Turnover of Property

Key Terms:
Executory Contracts
Turn Over of Property


Case Summary:
Parties sought court determination regarding validity and extent of judgment lien on nonexempt real estate of debtors who had received chapter 7 discharge.  Court holds that bankruptcy court discharge voided judgment against debtors.  Further, state court's subsequent order of satisfaction -- granted pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 806.19(4) providing for satisfaction of judgments upon showing of bankruptcy discharge -- voided judgment lien on nonexempt real estate.  Judgment lien is voided pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 806.21, which provides for voiding of lien upon satisfaction of judgment.

Statue/Rule References:
Wis. Stat. § 806.19(4) -- Satisfaction of Judgment Upon Showing of Discharge
WIs. Stat. § 806.21 -- Voiding of Lien Upon Satisfaction of Judgment

Key Terms:
Judicial Liens
Lien Avoidance
Satisfaction of Judgment


Case Summary:
Creditor store's adversary proceeding seeking determination that debt from debtor's purchases totaling $1,047.42 is nondischargeable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(2)(C) -- the luxury goods exception -- is dismissed.  To establish a presumption of nondischargeability under § 523(a)(2)(C), a plaintiff must show: 1) a consumer debt; 2) owed to a single creditor; 3) aggregating more than $500.00; 4) for luxury goods or services; 5) incurred by an individual debtor; 6) on or within forty days before the order for relief.  Citing In re Blackburn, 68 B.R. 870, 873 (Bankr. N.D. Ind. 1987).  Debtors successfully rebutted the presumption by testifying that the purchases were made impulsively and that bankruptcy was not contemplated until after they received a notice of deficiency from the Veterans Administration.

Statue/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(C) -- Nondischargeability - Luxury Goods

Key Terms:
Luxury Goods


Case Summary:
Trustee's motion for partial summary judgment in action to recover $125,000 setoff by bank against debtor's indebtedness to it is denied.  Bank did not waive its right to setoff by issuing a cashier's check; nor did purchase of a cashier's check create special account so as to destroy mutuality of obligations required for bank to exercise its right of setoff under Bankruptcy Act.  Substantial issues of material fact exist as to whether payee's interest in cashier's check arose before debtor-remitter filed bankruptcy, thus precluding summary judgment.

Statue/Rule References:
11 U.S.C. § 553 -- Setoff

Key Terms:
Setoff
Summary Judgment


Case Summary:
Debtors sought court determination of status of real estate tax penalties in their respective chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.  Generally, penalties are not in harmony with overall philosophy of bankruptcy code -- to effectuate fair and equitable distribution of estate assets to creditors.  Postpetition penalty on debtors' postpetition Wisconsin real estate taxes is allowable as an administrative expense.  Postpetition penalties on debtors' prepetition real estate taxes, which become a lien on real estate under Wisconsin law, are punitive in nature and are thus disallowed.

Key Terms:
Penalties
Tax -- Penalties


Case Summary:
Debtors' motion to avoid liens pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f)(2) on various farm tools and implements is granted.  Farm implements of substantial value constitute "tools" or "implements" of debtor-farmer.  Bankruptcy code provision allowing debtors to avoid nonpurchase money liens which impair exemptions does not provide for unconstitutional taking of creditor's property without just compensation; nor does it violate due process clause of Fifth Amendment.

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

Key Terms:
Lien Avoidance


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