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In Re: Schaefer Salt Recovery, Inc., 06-4574 [Sept. 9, 2008]

Petitioner accused of deliberately filing frivolous petition to forestall foreclosure; bankruptcy court’s denial of sanctions and reconsideration is vacated and remanded. Reasoning: The bankruptcy court is a unit of the district court and therefore comes within the scope of sec. 451 – hence it had plenary authority to impose sanctions under 28 U.S.C. 1927.

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In the Matter of Soza, 06-21004 [Sept. 12, 2008]

Bankruptcy court’s decision to exempt an annuity, purchased a day prior to filing, from the debtor’s estate is reversed and remanded because 1) its purchase was not an intentional fraud but to decide whether the state-law based exemption should apply a lower standard should have been applied by the court; and 2) several “badges of fraud” were evident in the purchase so under a “totality of circumstances” test the transaction represented a payment made in fraud of a creditor.

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In Re: Willett, 07-1850 [Sept, 12, 2008]

Grant of debtor’s sec. 522 motion to avoid a lien on their residence is reversed and remanded because, for purposes of ruling on such a motion, the bankruptcy court should have valued the ch. 13 debtor’s interest in the real property as of the date that their interest became part of the bankruptcy estate.

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In re: M & S Grading, Inc., 07-3909 [September 09, 2008]

In a case arising out of the bankruptcy of an excavation company that participated in employee-benefit plans wherein the plans and their trustees claimed that debtor’s bankruptcy trustee improperly made payments to a bank instead of the plans, various rulings are affirmed where: 1) unpaid contributions owed to the plans were not employee contributions because the contributions were not withheld from employees’ paychecks; 2) thus, the unpaid contributions remained corporate assets and did not become assets of the plan; 3) trustee’s failure to assert a claim against the bank was justified and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plans’ motion to commence litigation against the bank; 4) there was no abuse of discretion in not granting an equitable subordination claim; and 5) plans’ motion for removal of the bankruptcy trustee was properly denied without a hearing.

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In re: Sandoval, 07-5165 [Sept. 11, 2008]

In the context of bankruptcy law, sec. 523(a)(7) does not render non-dischargeable a debt incurred by a debtor who has guaranteed a bail bondsman to make the bondsman whole in the event a criminal defendant jumps bail.

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