Waldman v. Stone, No. 10-6497 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Stone owned STM, which owed Fifth Third about $1 million, secured by liens on business assets and on Stone’s house. Stone’s attorney, Atherton, introduced Stone to Waldman, a potential investor. Stone did not know that Atherton was indebted to Waldman and had given Waldman STM’s proprietary business data. Atherton filed STM’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to preserve assets so that Waldman could acquire them. Atherton allowed the automatic stay to expire. Fifth Third foreclosed, obtaining judgments and a lien on Stone’s house. Waldman paid Fifth Third $900,000 for the bank’s rights. Waldman and Atherton offered to pay off Stone’s debts and employ him in exchange for STM’s assets and told Stone to sign documents without reading them, to meet a filing deadline. The documents actually transferred all STM assets exchange for a job. Ultimately, Waldman owned all STM assets and Stone’s indebtedness, with no obligation to forgive it. Waldman filed garnishment actions; Stone filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, alleging that Waldman had fraudulently acquired debts and assets. Atherton was disbarred. The bankruptcy court found that Waldman and Atherton had perpetrated “egregious frauds,” invalidated Stone’s obligations, and awarded Stone $1,191,374 in compensatory and $2,000,000 in punitive damages. The district court affirmed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the discharge, but vacated the award of damages as unauthorized.