Nelson v. Long (In re Long)

Case Type:
Consumer
Case Status:
Affirmed
Citation:
16-6073 (10th Circuit, Dec 12,2016) Published
Tag(s):
Ruling:

The scope and application of state exemptions are defined by the state courts and appellate courts will give deference to the state's hhighest court's interpretation. if the state's highest court has not intrepreted a statute, the appellate court instead predicts how that court would rule.

Procedural context:

The Bankruptcy Court sustained debtor’s claim of exemption of insurance proceeds received prepetition and the chapter 7 trustee appealed to the District Court. The District Court affirmed and the 10th Circuit, reviewing the Bankruptcy Court’s decision independently, affirmed.

Facts:

Debtor was the beneficiary of his deceased wife’s life insurance policy and received $60,000 after her death. After receiving the check but before cashing it, debtor filed bankruptcy. After filing, debtor cashed the check and claimed the proceeds as exempt pursuant to the Oklahoma exemption statute. Oklahoma had opted out of the federal exemption scheme and its exemption statute provided that insurance proceeds “to be paid or rendered” was exempt. Trustee argued that the quoted phrase was limited to proceeds to be paid in the future and not those that had already been paid as in this case. The 10th Circuit found that the Oklahoma supreme court had interpreted similar language in other statutes was not limited to proceeds to be paid in the future but included proceeds that had already been paid.

Judge(s):
BRISCOE, EBEL, PHILLIPS (BRISCOE)

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