Luebbert v. Global Control Systems, Inc., No. 19-2751 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit took this opportunity to clarify its jurisprudence about exceptions to discharge under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(6) and concluded that a judgment for an intentional tort is not necessary to find judgment debt for a breach of contract nondischargeable. The willfulness requirement is met when the bankruptcy court finds facts showing that the debtor's conduct accompanying the breach of contract amounted to an intentional tort against the creditor. The court perceived that this aligns with the core of the analyses performed by the Ninth and Fifth Circuits.
In this case, debtor sought to discharge hundreds of thousands of dollars in judgment debt in bankruptcy after a breach of contract lawsuit indebted him to his former employer. The court affirmed the bankruptcy court's determination that the debt resulted from his infliction of a willful and malicious injury on his former employer and so was non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(6). In this case, debtor's conduct amounted to an intentional tort under Missouri law.