In re William C. Aubiel

15 FED App. 0004P (6th Cir.) File Name: 15b0004p.06
Sixth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed Bankruptcy Court's denial of Debtor's claim of homestead exemption under Ohio law in 46-foot Sea Ray Boat. Panel held that the bankruptcy court did not err in determining that trustee carried burden of rebutting presumption that exemption was allowable and that only evidence presented by the Debtor was his own testimony which, due to multiple inaccuracies in his petition and schedules, was not believable. Panel gave great deference to bankruptcy court's determination of Debtor's credibility and was not clearly erroneous.
Procedural context:
Debtor claimed exemption in boat which was allegedly used as his principal residence. The Trustee objected to the Debtor's claim of exemption in the boat contending that the boat was not the Debtor's residence and sought turnover of the boat from the Debtor.
Debtor filed a voluntary chapter 7 bankruptcy petition listing 4637 North 3rd Street Ex. SE, Dennison, Ohio 44621 as the mailing address on the petition.The petition listed Debtor’s residence as 2035 First Street, Pier A, Dock 9, Sandusky, Ohio. This location is the dock slip where Debtor kept his 46-foot Sea Ray boat. Debtor listed the boat on Schedule B as “residential boat 46 foot 1988 Sea Ray Boat.” On schedule C, Debtor claimed the boat exempt pursuant to Ohio’s homestead exemption. Debtor admitted that he did not live on the boat year-round and now was a long distance truck driver. Nonetheless, Debtor argued that he constructively occupied the boat even when he is not there and that it is his principal place of dwelling. The Trustee asserted that the boat was not Debtor’s primary residence at the time of filing but rather that the Debtor’s former marital home, which was located 100 miles away (and where his business was located) was, in fact, his principal residence. The Trustee’s evidence included copies of Debtor’s checking account and savings account statements for the period including the date of filing, which show his mailing address as his former marital home. The title documentation of the boat also listed Debtor’s address as his former marital home. The mailing address reflected on Debtor’s tax return filed in 2013 (for the year 2012) was a post office , approximately 100 miles away from the marina where the boat was located.
Delk, Humphrey and Preston

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