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In monster-truck bankruptcy, courts errantly denied ex-wife’s claim

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Federal Bankruptcy and District courts wrongly denied a woman’s claim against the estate of her ex-husband and business partner who owed her money after they divorced and unwound a monster-truck business for which she had lent money.

In Dawn Marie Adams v. James Gregory Adams, 13-1636, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday ruled that Judge William T. Lawrence of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana improperly affirmed a Bankruptcy Court ruling denying Dawn Adams’ petition. Numerous Georgia court rulings said her ex-husband, Greg, owed her at least $74,000. He filed for bankruptcy after the judgments.

“The state courts of Georgia decided three times in three final judgments that Greg still owed money to Dawn after they divorced and unwound their ‘monster truck’ business,” Judge David Hamilton wrote for the panel. “The bankruptcy court heard evidence on the merits of Dawn’s claim, though, and denied it as inequitable.

“We find that the issues concerning the validity of Dawn’s claim were previously adjudicated in the state courts and that the doctrine of issue preclusion prevented the bankruptcy court from rehearing those issues. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for proceedings.”

"Dawn seeks in the bankruptcy only what the (Georgia) court determined she was owed," Hamilton wrote. "(T)hough Greg Adams had the opportunity to appeal the Georgia state court judgments, he did not avail himself of that opportunity. Instead, he filed for bankruptcy, but that is not a substitute for timely appeals of the state court judgments.

“The doctrine of issue preclusion (collateral estoppel) bars him from using the bankruptcy system to have his defenses reheard despite the state courts’ rejection of those defenses.”

The suit arises from the Southern District, Terre Haute Division, because Dawn Adams relocated to Putnam County, Ind., after the couple divorced. The monster truck in which the couple had invested is known as “Annihilator,” the opinion notes.
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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