Asset Protection, Attorney-Client Privilege, Pre/Post Wrongdoing

June 5, 2017

“The court is loath to invade the attorney-client privilege except upon the most persuasive prima facie presentation, as the Trustee has made in support of his Motion”

A recent decision in the Western District of Michigan Bankruptcy Court, allows for a Trustee to subpoena a debtor’s Attorney for correspondence that the non-moving party argues is protected by attorney-client privilege.  In the matter of In re Rosich, Adversary Case Number 15-80203, the Court came to this careful determination by citing the crime-fraud exception and using a two-part test to show why attorney-client privilege does not apply in this case.  Within this decision, the Court did not simply open the flood gates; instead they applied an important distinction between pre/post wrongdoing to limit the scope of the subpoena. 

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Ninth Circuit BAP rules in Student Debtor’s Favor on Student Loan Debt case

May 21, 2017

Last week we featured a blog entitled, “What to do with Student loan Debt? The Debate Continues.”  In that blog we discussed an important ruling by the 11th Circuit Court that allowed a debtor to discharge $112,000.00 in student loan debt through her individual bankruptcy.

Under a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP), a debtor may be able to discharge over $70,000.00 in private student loans. 

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West Michigan Beer and Craft Breweries – Reorganization and Bankruptcy Options

May 11, 2017

It’s happening all over.  The economy is steady yet, in the first quarter of 2017 alone we’ve seen more major retail outlets across the U.S. file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy than in the whole of 2016.  In the age of being able to order everything to your doorstep, physical retail outlets across the United States are being forced to re-imagine their industry; to pivot to survive. 

Some of this doom-day buzz has begun to circulate in regards to the Craft Beer Industry; an industry that boosted the Michigan economy by $1.85 billion in 2014 according to a report released by Denver-based Brewers Association, an industry trade group. 

Today, the media conversation looks a little different:

                “Is the craft beer market in Grand Rapids saturated?”

                “Concern over craft brewery saturation in West Michigan emerges among lenders,”

                ”Executive roundtable: Craft beverage makers struggle through internal divisions, market forces, threats”

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What to do with Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy? The Debate Continues

May 8, 2017

“Thus, even if the court concludes that a debtor has acted recklessly or foolishly in accumulating student debt, that does not play into an analysis under the second prong.”

In an important decision last week, the 11th Circuit Court vacated and remanded Alabama District Court Judge W. Keith Watkins’ judgment concerning a single mother’s $112,000.00, $915/month student loan debt.

Through her individual bankruptcy proceedings, the debtor’s student loan debt was considered discharged under Section 523(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code.  This section of the code is referred to as “undue hardship,” it reads:

“(a) A discharge under section 727, 1141, 1228(a), 1228(b), or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt— ….(8) unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents.”

 

This means, it was the opinion of the bankruptcy court that the continued, required payment of $915/month for 15 years was sure to impose an “undue hardship” on the debtor and her family.  On appeal, district court Judge Watkins reversed this decision, once again binding the debtor to the full student loan debt amount. 

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So, Your State Income Tax Refund Was Garnished…

April 28, 2017

This blog is about State income tax refund garnishments, not federal.  Your federal income tax refund can typically only be garnished for federal or related government obligations.  If you owed the IRS, child support back pay, or federal student loans, your federal income tax refund can potentially be garnished. 

Further, if your wage or bank account has been garnished read our standard Garnishment Blog here or, watch a short YouTube video about how the garnishment process works here. 

 

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Michigan Driver Responsibility Program Phase Out and Bankruptcy

April 10, 2017

The State of Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Program has been in existence for a number of years, and can result in a substantial amount of fees owed to the State. However, the State has begun a phase out of the Driver Responsibility programs and related fees.  It is important to note that not all driver responsibility fees will be affected by this phase out.  If your fees do not fall within this limited phase out window, it may still be beneficial to consider a bankruptcy to discharge the obligation and reinstate your license. 

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Court Fines and Costs in Bankruptcy – Are court costs and fines included in a bankruptcy discharge

March 14, 2017

One issue that can arise during the bankruptcy process is determining whether court fines, court costs, and court fees are discharged in a bankruptcy case.  

There are some specific and limited debts that are not discharged in bankruptcy.  These are defined in the bankruptcy code.  One specific kind of debt that survives discharge is for certain fines and penalties related to court proceedings.  11 USC 523(a)(7) reads:

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A Violation of the Stay: Bench Warrants

February 21, 2017

Picture this all-too-common scenario: A creditor fiercely attempts to enforce its judgment against a debtor. It jumps through all of the proper hoops: waiting 28 days from the date of the judgment, obtaining a garnishment, and recording a judgment lien. Despite these valiant efforts, the judgment has not been satisfied. The creditor pulls out the next tool in its tool belt, a debtor’s exam. The creditor tees up the debtor’s exam and issues a subpoena. The creditor shows up for the hearing but the debtor does not. Thereafter, the court issues a bench warrant for the debtor’s failure to comply with the terms of the subpoena.

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