In re: Lane, No. 18-8038 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Debtor sold her home to the Deans; they discovered mold in the basement. A court entered judgment on an arbitration award to the Deans: $28,172.99, plus attorney fees of $98,722.58. The Deans filed a lien against the Debtor’s current residence. Debtor filed a bankruptcy petition, listing the Deans as secured creditors. The Bankruptcy confirmed the Debtor’s chapter 13 plan. Debtor is paying the Deans’ claim in full, with interest. The Deans filed an Adversary Proceeding, claiming damages for Sarah Dean’s respiratory problems. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed that Proceeding; the Deans did not appeal. After the confirmation of Debtor’s Plan, the Deans unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the bankruptcy case. Meanwhile, Debtor sent the Deans a letter offering a proposed payout. The letter explained that it was not admissible as evidence (Rule 408). The Deans filed the letter on the docket, unaccompanied by any pleading or explanation, then designated the letter as part of the record on appeal for their unsuccessful motion to dismiss. Debtor sought sanctions for rules violations by filing the letter and moved to strike the letter. The Bankruptcy Court granted those motions, sanctioned the Deans $5,000, and awarded Debtor attorney fees. The Deans filed another Adversary Proceeding, seeking revocation of the confirmation order (11 U.S.C. 1330(a)). Debtor filed another sanctions motion, for “meritless pleadings.” The Bankruptcy Court dismissed the second adversary proceeding and ordered the Deans to pay $2,641 in attorney’s fees for their frivolous filing. The Sixth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. Not understanding the purpose of Chapter 13 and without legal guidance, the Deans increased expenses and delayed payment of their own claim.