New England Bankruptcy Law Blog

Preti Flaherty bankruptcy attorneys provide news and discuss up-to-date legal issues and emerging trends in bankruptcy, creditor’s rights and business restructuring law. The attorneys in the firm's insolvency practice represent clients in all areas of bankruptcy with a focus on business restructuring, formal bankruptcy proceedings and creditors’ rights litigation.

Recent Blog Posts

  • In the recent opinion of In re Smith, the Maine Bankruptcy Court (Fagone, J.) held that the termination of the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3)(A) extends to the debtor, the debtor’s property, and property of the estate, disagreeing with the First Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.The facts of the case are not complicated. In December 2014, Leland S. Smith, Jr., filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 13. In November 2016, Smith’s case was dismissed for failure to make plan... More
  • With its recent opinion in Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson, the Supreme Court has put to rest the question of whether or not filing stale claims violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), determining that proofs of claim filed for stale debt do not violate the FDCPA. This is the latest development in an issuethe New England Bankruptcy Law Blog has followedas it has migrated its way through the courts since last June.According to Midland, shortly after Aleida Johnson... More
  • The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has joined the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits in employing a four-part test to determine whether debt associated with a late-filed tax return is dischargeable under section 523(a) of the Bankruptcy Code. This differs from the First, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, which have held that a tax return that is filed late is not a “return” under section 523(a) of the Bankruptcy Code. As such, in those circuits, the debt associated... More
  • The US Supreme Court recently authorized a number of significant changes to the procedural rules applicable to bankruptcy proceedings. Absent Congressional intervention, which appears unlikely, the new rules will take effect on December 1, 2017. The amendments will most impact creditors dealing with consumer debtors in Chapter 13 cases, creating new deadlines for filing proofs of claim and allowing debtors to prosecute challenges to secured creditor claims through the plan submission and confirmation process. Some of the more significant changes... More
  • Landlords should use caution in attempts to take possession of leased space once a tenant files bankruptcy.  Recently, in Lansaw v. Zokaites, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an order of the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania awarding of emotional distress damages and punitive damages against a landlord who violated the automatic stay.  Under section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, the filing of a bankruptcy petition operates as a stay against debt collection activities by creditors. ... More
  • Recently in In re Guerra, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts joined the majority of courts in finding that United States Supreme Court’s decision in Bankof Am. v. Caulkett does not affect a chapter 13 debtor’s ability to strip off a second mortgage.  In Caulkett, the Supreme Court held that a debtor in a chapter 7 bankruptcy may not void a junior mortgage lien under 11 U.S.C. § 506(d) when the debt owed on a senior mortgage lien exceeds... More
  • Last week, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Czyzewski v.Jevic Holding Corp., stating that non-consensual, priority violating, structured dismissals are not allowed under the Bankruptcy Code.  In a well-reasoned opinion, the Court gave a simple answer to what has become a complex issue, especially in large Chapter 11 cases where the path out of bankruptcy is not always clear: the absolute priority rule is absolute (unless the affected parties agree otherwise). Czyzeweski v. Jevic Holding Corp. CaseThe Jevic... More
  • In a recent decision, the bankruptcy court for the District of Massachusetts found that a debtor who had not lived at a property for over 30 years could still claim an exemption in that property, even though her principal residence was elsewhere.The debtor owned a one-half remainder interest in property occupied by her elderly parents. On her Schedule C, she claimed an exemption in the property in the whole value of her interest, $14,945.29 under § 522(I) of the Bankruptcy... More
  • In September 2016, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Vermont ordered a mortgage servicer to pay a $375,000 sanction to a nonprofit legal aid organization for failing to comply with Rule 3002.1 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. This appears to be the first time that a bankruptcy court has awarded sanctions after a violation of Rule 3002.1. If this decision—In re Gravel, 556 B.R. 561 (Bankr. D. Vt. 2016)—serves as a guidepost to other courts that... More
  • As reported on our blog (here and here), the Eleventh Circuit ruled that filing a time barred proof of claim does not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, an issue which has divided courts and Courts of Appeals. The Supreme Court heard argument on this issue on January 17, 2017. The transcript can be found here.The advocates faced some tough question about the issues presented as well as the spirit and purpose of the Bankruptcy Code itself.... More
  • The Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court (Panos, J.) dismissed an adversarial proceeding complaint brought against debtor’s counsel which alleged legal malpractice. The trustee alleged that debtor’s counsel committed malpractice and asserted that the legal malpractice claims are assets of the bankruptcy estate. Debtor’s counsel moved to dismiss. After a hearing, the Court granted the motion to dismiss, ruling that the alleged malpractice claims were not property of the bankruptcy estate and that the trustee therefore lacked standing to assert them.In the adversarial... More
  • Almost every year, changes are implemented to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. On December 1, 2016, this year’s changes to the Bankruptcy Rules went into effect. The changes include revisions to Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1.Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1 requires secured creditors with an interest in the debtor’s principal residence, such as mortgage lenders, to periodically file notices of payment change in Chapter 13 cases. The changes to Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1 clarify when a secured creditor must file a payment change notice.... More
  • In the recent opinion of In re Failla, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that when a debtor indicates in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules case that she or he intends to “surrender” property subject to a secured claim, the debtor can’t renege on that commitment. The Court of Appeals therefore affirmed the bankruptcy court’s order requiring the debtors to cease opposition to a secured creditor’s subsequent foreclosure of the surrendered property. The Faillas indicated in their Chapter 7 Statement... More
  • As reported on our blog, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that filing a time barred proof of claim does not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, an issue which has divided courts and Courts of Appeals. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case of Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson. (See here.)  Presumably, this will resolve the circuit split on the issue and provide guidance for creditors and debtors on this tough issue.Stay tuned. We will report... More
  • Recently, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine held that a debtor’s interest in an engagement ring is exempt under Maine law. In re Cynthia A. Chaney, Case No. 15-20725. In that case, the debtor claimed the full value of her wedding and engagement rings, valued at $5,200, as exempt under Maine law. The Chapter 7 Trustee in the case objected, arguing that Maine law allows an exemption in jewelry up to a maximum value of $750. In Maine, a... More