In re: Mwangi, No. 12-16087 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
The Debtors were account holders at Wells Fargo. When Wells Fargo discovered that the Debtors had filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, it placed a “temporary administrative pledge” on their accounts and requested instructions from the Chapter 7 trustee regarding the distribution of account funds, a portion of which the Debtors claimed as exempt under Nevada Revised Statutes 21.090(1)(g). The Debtors brought an adversary proceeding, which the bankruptcy court dismissed. The district court affirmed, holding that they did not state a claim for a willful violation of 11 U.S.C. 362(a)(3), which prohibits “any act to obtain possession of property of the estate or of property from the estate or to exercise control over property of the estate.” Before the account funds revested in the Debtors, they remained estate property, and the Debtors had no right to possess or control them. The administrative pledge could cause the Debtors no injury before the account funds revested. After the account funds revested in the Debtors, they lost their status as estate property and thus were no longer subject to section 362(a)(3).