Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

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Petitioner Ann Hardegger filed a complaint in the district court seeking contribution from respondents Daniel and Cheryl Clark, for their proportionate share of a payment she made to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in full satisfaction of the parties’ joint and several tax liabilities. In October 2010, the Clarks filed a joint voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and gave notice to their creditors, including the Hardeggers. The Hardeggers did not file a proof of claim in the bankruptcy proceeding, and the bankruptcy court granted the Clarks a discharge. In Hardegger’s case, the district court found the Clarks responsible for one-half of the IRS indebtedness and entered summary judgment in Hardegger’s favor. A division of the court of appeals reversed, however, concluding that Hardegger’s contribution claim constituted a pre-petition debt that had been discharged in the Clarks’ bankruptcy case. Applying the “conduct test,” under which a claim arises for bankruptcy purposes at the time the debtor committed the conduct on which the claim is based, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that Hardegger’s claim for contribution arose when the parties’ jointly owned company incurred federal tax withholding liability between 2007 and 2009, rendering Hardegger and Clark potentially responsible for that debt. Because this conduct occurred before the Clarks filed their bankruptcy petition in 2010, Hardegger’s claim constituted a pre-petition debt that was subject to discharge. View "Hardegger v. Clark" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court was asked to respond to a certified question posed by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. The question arose out of an adversary proceeding in which the plaintiff, in his capacity as Chapter 7 Trustee, sought to assert his "strong arm" powers under 11 U.S.C. § 544(a)(3) to avoid the defendants' security interest in the debtor's property and to recover the property for the benefit of the estate. At the time the bankruptcy petition was filed, the defendants' security interest was documented in a deed of trust that was recorded and properly indexed in the City and County of Denver, where the encumbered property is located. The recorded deed identified the encumbered property by a correct and complete street address and expressly referred to an attached legal description of the property. The recorded deed, however, omitted the referenced attachment. The Trustee contended that because the recorded deed of trust did not contain a legal description of the encumbered property, it failed to provide sufficient notice of the defendants' security interest to a subsequent purchaser of the property under sections 38-35-109(1) and 38-35-122, C.R.S. (2011). The Supreme Court held that, under the circumstances of this case, actual knowledge could not be imputed to the trustee, and the deed of trust did not otherwise provide sufficient notice of the defendant's security interest in the debtor's property. The supreme court answered the certified question in the negative and returned the case to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado for further proceedings. View "Sender v. Cygan" on Justia Law