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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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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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