In Re:Orton, No. 11-4157 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Orton filed a Chapter 7 petition. On Schedule A (realty), he listed his one-eighth interest in vacant land that is subject to an oil and gas lease, stating fair market value as $34,000 and claiming an exemption for $4,250 (1/8). On Schedule B (personal property), Orton listed his one-fourth interest in royalty interest in the oil and gas lease, assigning a fair market value of $1; no well has been drilled. On Schedule C (claimed exemptions), Orton claimed wildcard exemptions, 11 U.S.C. 522(d)(5), for $4,250 and $1. No party objected. The Trustee moved to close the case and to except Orton’s royalty interest from abandonment, preserving ability to recover any future royalties for the estate. Orton objected, claiming that he had successfully, permanently removed the assets from the estate, securing for himself future appreciation, free from creditors’ claims. The Bankruptcy Court held that the Trustee was entitled to pursue any future increase in value above the amount stated in Schedule C. The district court and Third Circuit affirmed. The Trustee, not the Debtor, is entitled to post-petition appreciation in value of estate assets that surpasses the amount exempted. Orton had exempted only an interest, not the asset itself, and was entitled to only the amount listed in Schedule C, not to future appreciation.