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Lack of Prejudice Defeats Procedural Due Process Claim of Plaintiff Class

By: Bryant Churbuck

St. John's Law Student

American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review Staff

In In re Motors Liquidation Co., the Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York held that the class of "Pre-Closing Accident" plaintiffs would be unable to proceed with their personal injury claims against the new General Motors (“GM”), rather than the old GM , because they suffered no prejudice to support a procedural due process violation, despite the fact that the notice by publication given to the "Pre-Closing Accident" plaintiffs was insufficient. In Motors Liquidation, several classes of plaintiffs were asserting claims related to an ignition switch defect that was known by GM as far back as 2003. At least 24 GM business and in-house legal personnel employees knew about the ignition switch defect at the time of GM's 2009 chapter 11 bankruptcy case and section 363 Sale Order. On July 10, 2009, the sale of Old GM in accordance with the Section 363 Sale Order closed, forming the new GM. In the Spring of 2014, GM finally recalled the vehicles with the faulty ignition switch issue. Shortly thereafter, GM announced the ignition switch defect, resulting in several class action lawsuits.

The Government Will Get Theirs (Most of the time)

By: Clayton J. Lewis

St. John’s Law Student

American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review Staff

In the case of In re Brown, the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida held that a tax debt owed to the IRS was excepted from a hardship discharge, and accordingly was not excused from payment. The debtors in In re Brown filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief and initially implemented a payment plan for 100% of their debts, including a total of $303,229 payable to the IRS. The debtors, however, were unable to meet their payment obligations and had to amend their payment plan twice. With over $155,000 still due to the IRS, the debtors offered to settle theirs debt with the IRS. The debtors and the IRS were unable to reach a settlement. The IRS nonetheless suggested that the debtors file for a hardship discharge under section 1328(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. The debtors followed this suggestion and received a hardship discharge, and their bankruptcy case was closed. The discharge order expressly noted that the debt to the IRS, however, was not discharged and was still due in full. When the IRS attempted to collect the debt, the debtors filed a complaint against the IRS in the bankruptcy court, alleging that the IRS had violated the Discharge Order.

A Debtor May Not Necessarily Have His Chapter 7 Case Dismissed

By: Shane Walsh

St. John’s Law Student

American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review

A person who files for bankruptcy may not simply change his mind and have his bankruptcy case dismissed. In In re Segal , the bankruptcy court denied a debtor’s request to dismiss his voluntary chapter 7 case because the debtor acted in bad faith, dismissal would prejudice his creditors, and the debtor would be unable to “secure a fresh start outside of bankruptcy.”[1] In this instance, the debtor filed a chapter 7 petition to avoid the imminent foreclosure sale of his apartment.[2] Four months after the chapter 7 petition was filed, the debtor filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the lack of his signature on the original petition was a “fatal defect to the filing.”[3] The court, however, denied the request, finding that the debtor filed the motion to dismiss after obtaining the benefit of the automatic stay to the detriment of his creditors.[4]

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