The Tenth Circuit Court recently heard the Rupp v. Pearson case where the debtor’s historical use of bankruptcy filings suggested improper purpose to hinder and delay creditors.
Mrs. Pearson had filed nine, mostly unsuccessful, bankruptcies since 1993. In 1997, she filed two unsuccessful chapter 13 cases before filing a chapter 7 petition and receiving a discharge. She later filed two more unsuccessful chapter 13 cases and had one pending chapter 13 case. She then filed another chapter 7 case seeking another discharge of her debts. The second chapter 7 case was filed two weeks after the dismissal of her chapter 13, and immediately upon the passage of the eight-year period.
The bankruptcy court inferred that Ms. Pearson was a “system-gamer.” This means that she routinely filed chapter 13 cases simply to stall collection efforts and with no actual intention of complying with the terms of her own plans. She then filed for chapter 7 relief as soon as the law allowed.
During one of Ms. Pearson’s filings, she agreed to contribute her expected tax return to the extent it exceeded $2,000. However, she kept the entire $4,829 refund and spent it on non-exempt personal items. This resulted in the bankruptcy court dismissing one of her chapter 13 cases. When she filed a chapter 7 case two weeks later, the trustee filed an adversary complaint seeking to have Ms. Pearson’s discharge denied due to her misappropriation of the tax refund with intent to defraud creditors, in violation of section 727(a)(2)(A). “In our view, the (trustee’s) complaint states a plausible claim that Ms. Pearson’s failure to turn over to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy estate the required portion of the tax refund was part of a scheme to hinder and delay creditors.”
However, the Tenth Circuit Court rejected the reasoning of the lower courts in finding that the complaint failed to state a claim for relief due to an absence of “fraud markers” and the fact that the complaint failed to negate the possibility of innocent uses of the tax refund. Rather, the circuit court noted that cases under 727(a)(2)(A) are fact-specific and not subject to rigid formulas.
Click here to read more on this story.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.