We have reported several times in connection with the chapter 7 case of Mary Veronica Santiago-Monteverde (“Debtor”), an elderly widow, who has resided in a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City since the 1970s. To see the prior articles click here.
News & Resources
By Michael L. Moskowitz
On September 17, 2014, the New York state court administrators announced stricter rules for creditors seeking judgments against consumers in debt collection lawsuits. Applicable only to debt incurred in connection with consumer credit transactions, the new rules are specifically intended to prohibit creditors from collecting a debt: (i) that a consumer has already paid off, (ii) that was not incurred by that particular consumer; and (iii) where the six-year statute of limitations has expired.
Stern v. Marshall Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms Bankruptcy Court Power to Enter Money Judgments in Non-Dischargeability Actions
By Richard E. Weltman
In its recent decision, Hart v. Southern Heritage Bank, 2014 WL 1663029 (6th Cir. April 28, 2014), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the United States Supreme Court’s seminal holding in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011) does not preclude a bankruptcy court from issuing final judgments in non-dischargeability challenges under section 523(a)(2)(B) of the Bankruptcy Code.
By Richard E. Weltman
Responding to what he termed a “continuing stream of complaints,” New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on May 1 announced that New York courts are proposing new rules to crack down on the filing of so-called “zombie debts,” insufficiently documented claims for default judgments against consumer debtors.
Judge Lippman wants creditors seeking to collect the debts—some of which may have been sold and resold by third-party credit buyers—to prove the obligations are actually outstanding and owed by those named in collection actions before New York courts will enforce them on behalf of creditors.
By: Michael L. Moskowitz
Less than three months ago, we reported on a case in which the Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning whether or not inherited IRA accounts constitute retirement funds. See previous article (Supreme Court to Decide Dispute Regarding Inherited IRAs in Bankruptcy) here. On June 12, 2014, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court, in Clark v. Rameker, 13-299, ruled that inherited IRAs are not retirement funds within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code.
We recently reported on whether a bankruptcy debtor’s rent-stabilized lease constitutes an exempt asset in the form of a “local public assistance benefit” under New York Debtor and Creditor Law. The case is presently under consideration before the New York Court of Appeals.
Weltman & Moskowitz began following the case in October, when we reported on the chapter 7 trustee’s efforts to sell the rent-stabilized lease of Mary Veronica Santiago-Monteverde (“Debtor”), a 79-year-old widow. Many readers have been following the debtor’s opposition to the chapter 7 trustee’s efforts to sell the debtor’s interest in her rent-stabilized lease to the landlord as an asset of the bankruptcy estate.
Update on Debtor Efforts to Strip-Off Unsecured Mortgage Liens: Supreme Court Denies Certiorari to Mortgage Lender in Sinkfield
The United States Supreme Court recently denied a creditor’s petition for certiorari in an Eleventh Circuit case entitled Bank of America, N.A. v. David Lamar Sinkfield (No. 13-700). The issue concerns whether section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to remove or strip-off a wholly unsecured—or “underwater”—mortgage lien in chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The United States Judicial Conference recently approved changes to the federal court miscellaneous fee schedules, including certain bankruptcy filing fees.
As of Sunday, June 1, 2014, the filing fees for most bankruptcy matters will rise. These fees are collected from both debtors and creditors accessing the federal bankruptcy courts, whether in person or online.
By Michael L. Moskowitz
Last October we reported on the travails of Mary Veronica Santiago (“Debtor”), a 79-year-old widow embroiled in a dispute with her chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee John Pereira. The issue is whether the “value” in her New York City rent-stabilized lease can be considered an exempt asset protected from sale in a bankruptcy case. At stake is the Debtor’s ability to continue to reside in her apartment free of creditor claims. Given the many thousand rent protected tenants, this is where public policy and federal bankruptcy law intersect. To see the prior article click here.
New York’s highest court recently announced that account holders do not have a private right of action to sue banks for alleged violations of the Exempt Income Protection Act (“EIPA”). Cruz v. TD Bank, 2013, NY Slip. Op. 07762 (November 21, 2013). EIPA exempts certain Social Security, veterans, disability and unemployment benefits from creditor restraining orders and requires banks to inform affected account holders of their right to obtain exemptions from collection.
In a major change, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) will soon require financial mortgage lenders to offer borrowers a greater disclosure at loan closings. The new disclosures replace existing Truth-In-Lending Statements, HUD-1 Settlement Statements and Good Faith Estimate disclosures.
In 2005, after 12 years of Congressional wrangling, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (“BAPCPA”).
The avowed purpose of BAPCPA was to reduce abusive filings by limiting consumer debtor’s access to chapter 7 relief. The financial service industry argued the change was needed to curb consumers’ “profligate spending” and perceived lax bankruptcy rules. By reducing access to chapter 7, lenders suggested that they would see increased distribution from those new chapter 13 cases due to limitations placed upon chapter 7 flowing from the so-called “means test.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently held that creditors may be liable under the false name exception to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) if they falsely represent to debtors they retained a third-party collection agent, when in fact the agent made no “bona fide” effort to collect.
Attached is a wonderful reference guide published by the City Bar Justice Center titled Understanding Reaffirmation Agreements. A reaffirmation agreement is a contract between a debtor and creditor wherein the debtor agrees the creditor’s debt will survive the bankruptcy discharge. The authority for entry into a reaffirmation agreement can be found in 11 U.S.C. §524(c). Debtors and creditors alike are typically barraged with misinformation regarding when reaffirmation agreements are appropriate.
Creditor’s Rights Update: New York Bankruptcy Court Declares Debt Owed to Sexually Abused Child Non-dischargeable in Mother’s Bankruptcy
Not every debt is entitled to be forgiven in bankruptcy. In a recent Northern District of New York bankruptcy decision, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Robert Littlefield Jr. held that a woman’s $3.75 million default judgment against her mother for negligent infliction of emotional distress would be excepted from discharge in her mother’s subsequent bankruptcy case. In re Irene Chaffee (Chaffee v. Chaffee), No. 07-90171 (Bankr. N.D.N.Y. September 3, 2013).
Upcoming Event: January 29, 2014 - Partner Michael Moskowitz Speaks on Consumer & Corporate Bankruptcy Issues
Michael Moskowitz will be a featured speaker at the New York State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting on January 29, 2014. Mr. Moskowitz’s panel, one of three to be presented by the Young Lawyers Section, will focus on consumer and corporate bankruptcy issues. insert excerpt info here.
Madoff update: Minnesota Bankruptcy Court Dismisses Ponzi Complaint for Trustee’s Failure to Name Specific Creditor Under State Court Fraudulent Transfer Claim
By Michael L. Moskowitz
Having represented numerous defendants in Ponzi-scheme adversary proceedings in the Second Circuit (New York), Weltman & Moskowitz closely follows the case law arising out of the massive Ponzi-scheme run by the now infamous Bernie Madoff. Uncovered in 2008, the resulting Madoff bankruptcies spawned dozens of decisions by the Bankruptcy Court, District Court and Second Circuit.
William K. Harrington, the U.S. Trustee for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island (Region 1), has been designated by Attorney General Eric Holder also to serve Region 2 replacing Tracy Hope Davis effective Nov. 27.
One of our lender clients, a New York City-based Federal Credit Union, came to us with a dilemma.
It seems the credit union was not receiving post-petition mortgage payments from its borrower, a chapter 13 debtor. Nor was the client receiving distribution payments from the debtor’s chapter 13 trustee. The lender had relied upon foreclosure counsel to handle the chapter 13 filing. Unfortunately, foreclosure counsel, not familiar with chapter 13 practice, only filed a Notice of Appearance and nothing else, not even a proof of claim.
Between 1998 and 2007, home mortgage debt nearly tripled from 4 trillion dollars to 10 trillion dollars. This mortgage boom resulted from easy lending and questionable subprime market practices. When the housing bubble burst, the economy tumbled. Many borrowers found themselves both unable to make mortgage payments and owners of real property worth less than what they owed. In response, many homeowners filed bankruptcy petitions either under chapter 7 to surrender their home, or chapter 13 to stop a foreclosure, repay pre-petition arrears, and hold on to their home.
Second Circuit Confirms Madoff Trustee Lacks Standing to Assert Common Law Claims against Third-Party Financial Institutions
In Picard v. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (In re Bernard L. Madoff Invest. Secs. LLC), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held last month that the “doctrine of in pari delicto" precluded Irving H. Picard, the trustee under the Securities Investor Protection Act (“SIPA”), from pursuing JP Morgan Chase & Co., HSBC Bank PLC, and other third-party defendants, on behalf of defrauded customers for certain common law claims. In re Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC, 2013 WL 3064848 (2d. Cir. June 20, 2013).
As authorized in Section 603(a) of Public Law 109-8, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), the United States Trustee Program (USTP) established procedures for independent audit firms to audit petitions, schedules, and other information in consumer bankruptcy cases. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 586(f), the USTP contracted with independent accounting firms to perform audits in cases designated by the USTP. Due to budgetary constraints, the USTP has indefinitely suspended its designation of cases subject to audit and has notified the independent accounting firms performing the audits. Pursuant to Section 603(a) of BAPCPA and 28 U.S.C. § 586(a)(6), after the conclusion of the fiscal year the USTP will make public information concerning the aggregate results of the debtor audits performed during fiscal year 2013.
Creditors Need to Take Notice of the Recent Amendments to the Federal Bankruptcy Rules Which Affect the Filing of Proofs of Claims
The Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States which is made up of federal judges, bankruptcy attorneys, and others, proposed amendments to Bankruptcy Rules 1007, 2015, 3001, 7054, and 7056. This Alert focuses on Bankruptcy Rule 3001.
Higher education costs continue to sky rocket with no end in sight. Students are incurring potentially crushing amounts of debt. Americans owe more than $1 trillion dollars in student loans, which has now surpassed the national credit card debt. While the surge in educational debt is worrisome, an even larger concern is private student loans. Private loans are a riskier way to finance education than through their federally subsidized counterparts.
As credit markets tighten, professionals and business owners alike have trouble finding access to credit to fund and grow business operations. Media reports indicate loans are harder to obtain and asset-to-debt ratios are stricter than ever. As cash dwindles the debt load rises. For the overwhelmed business owner bankruptcy is only one answer. There are other alternatives.
CREDIT UNION LENDER MUST IMMEDIATELY RETURN TO DEBTOR REPOSSESSED VEHICLE UPON NOTICE OF BANKRUPTCY FILING
On December 22, 2010, an upstate New York bankruptcy court in an adversary proceeding filed by debtor Christopher Weber against SEFCU (“Credit Union”), granted Credit Union’s motion for summary judgment.
HOW TO DEAL WITH LOUSY CREDIT REPORTS?: Why Knowing What Your Creditors are Saying About You Can Help You Take Charge
Often people with less than perfect credit scores are surprised that locating one standardized credit profile or a “uniform” credit report is more myth than reality. Judgments, repossessions, slow payment history, tax liens--as well as bankruptcy filings--are reported to a varying degree by creditor filings or with public record databases maintained by one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”). Sometimes adverse information is reported by other sources as well. In order to learn how badly your credit rating may have been damaged, you must first identify what personally identifiable credit information has been reported about you to the CRAs.
MICHAEL L. MOSKOWITZ TEACHES COURSE CONCERNING IMPACT OF BANKRUPTCY REFORM ON CONSUMERS TO DELOITTE, LLP STAFF MEMBERS
NEW YORK, NY - On September 25, 2008, Michael L. Moskowitz, a founding member of the law firm of Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP, presented an informative seminar to Deloitte, LLP professionals and support personnel at their New York City headquarters. Deloitte, LLP is one of the largest accounting and consulting firms in the world. The seminar was sponsored by the Deloitte Women's Initiative Learning and Development Committee.
NEW YORK, NY - Richard E. Weltman, a founding member of the law firm of Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP, recently presented an informative seminar to members of the Estate Planning Committee of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants at their FAE Conference Center in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY Despite claims earlier this year that bankruptcy practice would return to normal, the bottom is continuing to fall out.
NEW YORK, NY - By a vote of 302 to 126, on April 14, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bankruptcy reform bill which will become, for the most part, effective 180 days after it is signed into law by President Bush on April 20. The reform bill, which has stalled in Congress for more than seven years, will make filing for bankruptcy more difficult and costly, and will enhance the rights of creditors.
NEW YORK, NY - The Supreme Court ruled on Monday April 4, 2005, that creditors may not seize Individual Retirement Accounts when people file for bankruptcy.
NEW YORK, NY - As anticipated, Senator Charles Grassley(R-Iowa) introduced comprehensive bankruptcy reform legislation, revised for the 2005 legislative session, last week with several co-sponsors including a democratic senator.
NEW YORK, NY -- Sweeping consumer bankruptcy reform has been promised and much ballyhooed in the media for several years. While bankruptcy experts around the nation are uncertain about the ultimate fate of major reform legislation, according to Michael L. Moskowitz, a bankruptcy attorney who has closely followed the bills, the House adopted the most recent bankruptcy reform legislation late Wednesday, March 19, 2003, that would toughen bankruptcy rules for individuals and corporations.