In re: Julie Marie Wood

Case Type:
Case Status:
No. 22-8003 (6th Circuit, Dec 13,2022) Published
Despite multiple "red herring arguments" Appellant's failure to meet the well-settled requirements for opposing a properly-supported summary judgment motion supported the bankruptcy court's finding.
Procedural context:
Debtor filed a chapter 7 petition due, in part, to debts held in connection with a family real estate business as a joint venture (the "Joint Venture") with her father ("Appellant"). Appellant's testimony at a hearing to convert the case to one under chapter 13 resulted in his admitting that he intended to use the Joint Venture to put assets beyond the reach of his ex wife, the daughter's main creditor. After this hearing, the court denied the motion, and the Trustee filed complaints against Appellant and Debtor's other family members for fraudulent conveyances and preference transfers. Based on the prior testimony and Defendant's answer, the bankruptcy court rejected a proposed settlement between the Trustee and Defendants. This resulted in Defendants filing a motion to amend its answer to avoid conceding the Joint Venture, which the bankruptcy court rejected as judicially estopped due to Appellant's prior testimony. The bankruptcy court entered final judgment in the adversary proceeding on summary judgment.
Appellant appealed based on misapplication of judicial estoppel, placing too much weight on his prior testimony, and failure of the bankruptcy court to determine the Debtor's and his interests. Ultimately, the Panel found that the Bankruptcy Court's misgivings about Appellant's motives in seeking to amend his answer were within the bankruptcy judge's discretion. The facts surrounding the Appellant's motion to amend, such as the almost two year delay, prior testimony, and imminent trial indicated gamesmanship by the Appellant and bad faith rather than justice so requiring. Similarly, on review of summary judgment, the Panel found that, under Rule 56, the Appellant's testimony was without dispute and clearly demonstrated the actual intent to transfer assets to avoid paying debts prior to Debtor's bankruptcy in support of fraudulent transfer claims.

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