Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

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On July 11, 2013, the Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”) mailed an eligibility determination for unemployment benefits (the “2013 determination”) to William Wittkopf. This determination found Wittkopf underreported his wages for several weeks, which resulted in an overpayment in unemployment benefits. As a result, Wittkopf was: (1) ordered to repay the overpayment; (2) ineligible for any unemployment benefits for a fifty-two week period; and (3) assessed a civil penalty. Additionally, Wittkopf was told that he would remain ineligible for unemployment benefits until all amounts were repaid. Pursuant to Idaho Code section 72– 1368(3) the last day for Wittkopf to file a protest to the 2013 determination was July 25, 2013, which he failed to do. IDOL attempted to collect on the 2013 determination over the next year without success. Subsequently in early 2016, Wittkopf filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debt he owed to the state of Idaho was included in his bankruptcy and was discharged by order of the Bankruptcy Court. In September 2016, Wittkopf began filing new claims for unemployment benefits with IDOL because he worked a seasonal job and was not receiving any income in the winter months. After not receiving benefits for several weeks, Wittkopf called IDOL which informed him he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he had failed to pay back his overpayment, civil penalty, and interest he owed IDOL, even though those amounts were discharged in bankruptcy. Wittkopf mailed a letter to IDOL protesting the denial of his unemployment benefits. Wittkopf claimed in this letter that he was eligible for unemployment benefits because his bankruptcy discharged any amount he owed to IDOL. An Appeals Examiner construed Wittkopf’s 2016 letter as a protest of the 2013 determination. Two days later the Appeals Examiner issued a written decision finding there was no jurisdiction to hear Wittkopf’s protest because it was not filed within fourteen days of when it was issued on July 25, 2013, as required by Idaho Code section 72-1368. On November 3, 2016, Wittkopf appealed the Appeals Examiner’s decision to the Industrial Commission. On January 27, 2017, the Industrial Commission affirmed the Appeals Examiner’s decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Industrial Commission erred in affirming the examiner without having determined first whether: (1) the bankruptcy discharge voided IDOL's 2013 determination; (2) whether the discharge operated as an injunction against any effort to collect, recover or offset the 2013 debt; and if yes, (3) why the Department's denial of current benefits on the basis of the 2013 debt wasn't a violation of the injunction. The matter was remanded back to the Industrial Commission for further proceedings. View "Wittkopf v. Idaho Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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Marty and Cindy Frantz executed a series of commercial guaranties so that Idaho Independent Bank (“Bank”) would lend money to Eagle Ridge on Twin Lakes, Inc. (“Eagle Ridge”), a closely held corporation in which the Frantzes held a majority interest. Bank filed this action against the Frantzes to recover on their commercial guaranties. The Frantzes filed an answer in which they admitted the material allegations in the complaint, but asserted affirmative defenses and counterclaims against Bank. They later amended their answer to include a third-party claim against Eagle Ridge. The Frantzes initially filed a petition under chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code the day before Mr. Frantz’s deposition was to occur; the Frantzes’ bankruptcy was converted to a liquidation case under chapter 7, and a trustee was duly appointed for the estate. Less than two weeks before the trial on Bank’s adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy case, the Frantzes filed a voluntary waiver of discharge, and the bankruptcy court approved the waiver. As a result, the bankruptcy court was deprived of jurisdiction to hear the adversary proceeding, and it dismissed it without prejudice. However, the court did award sanctions in the sum of $49,477.46 against the Frantzes and their attorney, jointly and severally, for their conduct during the course of the adversary proceeding. The court found that their conduct constituted misuse of litigation tactics to cause economic injury to an opponent and its counsel in the form of increased litigation costs. Bank filed a notice in this case that because of the waiver of discharge, the automatic stay from the bankruptcy court was terminated. Bank then moved for summary judgment. The district court entered a judgment against the Frantzes “in the amount of $9,193,546.50, plus pre-judgment interest at the rate of $2,475.02 per diem from September 16, 2015, until the date this Judgment is entered.” Because the Frantzes' third-party claim against Eagle Ridge that was yet unresolved, the court certified the judgment as final pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. The Frantzes filed a motion for reconsideration, and the court denied that motion. They then timely appealed, arguing the district court erred in denying them affirmative defenses based upon an alleged breach of contract. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho Independent Bank v. Frantz" on Justia Law

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Appellants Robby and Kim Mowrey appealed the dismissal of their negligence action against Respondent Chevron Pipe Line Co. The district court ruled that because the Mowreys failed to disclose this claim as an asset in their Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, they were judicially estopped from pursuing it against Chevron. In the alternative, the district court ruled that the Mowreys lacked standing as the real party in interest to prosecute their claim because it belonged to the bankruptcy trustee as an asset of the bankruptcy estate. The Mowreys argued on appeal that the district court erred in granting summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Robby Mowrey v. Chevron Pipeline Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from an action filed against the City of Lewiston by Tim Thompson, Janet Thompson, and Thompson's Auto Sales (collectively, Thompson). Thompson filed a claim under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA), alleging the City negligently designed and installed a storm water drain system on a city street adjacent to Thompson's property, which caused storm water runoff to flow onto Thompson's property and damage it. After suit was filed, Thompson entered bankruptcy proceedings and the bankruptcy trustee, C. Barry Zimmerman, was substituted as Plaintiff in the action. The City moved for summary judgment on the grounds of discretionary immunity and design immunity. The district court denied the motion as to design immunity, but granted the motion on the ground of discretionary immunity. Zimmerman appealed, arguing that the discretionary immunity exception to liability under the ITCA does not grant immunity from liability for damage caused by negligent design and, alternatively, that even if discretionary immunity was considered, it was inapplicable in this case because the City's actions were not discretionary within the meaning of the exception. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that the City was not entitled to immunity from liability under any exception to the ITCA. View "Zimmerman v. City of Lewiston" on Justia Law