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Arbitration of FCRA claim survives bankruptcy discharge

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A man’s Fair Credit Reporting Act claim can be arbitrated even though the debt was addressed and discharged in bankruptcy proceedings, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Brian Brough entered into a contract with Green Tree Servicing, in which Green Tree loaned Brough money to buy a mobile home. The contract included an arbitration clause. Brough also agreed that Green Tree could share information about him and his account with credit reporting agencies.

Brough defaulted on the contract and filed for bankruptcy in 2003. His debt to Green Tree was addressed in the proceedings and the bankruptcy court discharged Brough’s petition in November 2008. Green Tree then filed a suit against Brough, which wasn’t identified in the appeal, and Brough filed a counterclaim alleging Green Tree violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by reporting to credit agencies that he still owed the company a debt under the contract even though the matter was discharged in bankruptcy.

The trial court granted Brough’s request to vacate the arbitration order.

At issue in Green Tree Servicing LLC v. Brian D. Brough, No. 88A01-0911-CV-550, is whether the FCRA claim is subject to the arbitration provision in the contract.

The appeals court looked to U.S. District Court rulings from New York and Illinois to conclude that FCRA claims can be subject to arbitration clauses. In addition, Brough even admitted his claim is subject to the arbitration clause, noted Senior Judge John Sharpnack.

The judges also disagreed with Brough’s argument that the whole contract is not valid because it was terminated by his bankruptcy discharge. Again, the court looked outside of Indiana for authority and relied on In re Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 300 S.W.3d 818 (Tex. Ct. App. 2009). In that case, homeowners who defaulted on a home equity loan and filed for bankruptcy claimed they didn’t have to arbitrate the suit they filed against the lender because the bankruptcy proceedings released them from any further obligations under their agreements with the lender, including an agreement to arbitrate. The Texas appellate court ruled the arbitration agreement survived bankruptcy.

As is the case In re Wells, Brough’s bankruptcy proceeding ended, so the arbitration of his FCRA claim won’t jeopardize the bankruptcy case or affect his discharge, wrote Senior Judge Sharpnack. The contract’s arbitration clause wasn’t terminated by his bankruptcy discharge. The trial court must order the parties to attend arbitration.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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