Dream of: 15 May 1994 (2) "Estopped"
I was standing in a court room (which looked more like a classroom filed with adult students) in front of a bankruptcy judge. The judge was a woman, who, although I didn't realize it at the time, reminded me of Morton (a Fort Worth attorney). She was dressed in a dress, not wearing a black robe.
We were discussing an objection which had been filed in the case of one of my bankruptcy clients named Massong. The creditor filing the objection had a security interest in Massong's mobile home. I proposed a bankruptcy plan to pay the creditor the value of the mobile home in equal monthly installments over a period of five years. Although my plan hadn't called for the creditor to be paid everything the creditor was owed, the plan provided that if the value of the mobile home was paid, then the remaining debt would be wiped out. The debtor had already been paying for four or five years when the creditor filed the objection.
The judge looked at the matter and was trying to figure out what it was about. The creditor wasn't there and I was unsure this was the proper time to be handling the matter, but since the judge was looking into it, I played along. I knew the judge had only recently become a judge, and was still not very familiar with the law on these matters. To my surprise she suddenly said something about $1,100 and said the creditor's objection would be denied.
That was the result I wanted, but I was still afraid the judge didn't know exactly what she was doing, and I didn't want to have more problems later. I looked through my file, and told her I didn't know what $1,100 she was talking about. Finally, together, we focused on one of the figures in the plan, which was actually $11,000. The judge looked surprised that she had misread the figure.
I knew the $11,000 figure represented the amount which the creditor wasn't going to be paid on its under-secured claim. I then proceeded to try to explain to the judge what was going on. In my mind I knew I had done everything right in this case; but when I had sent the original plan to the creditor, the letter had been returned to me for some reason, so I had no actual proof the creditor had received the plan. However, the creditor had been being paid all these years, so it would be difficult for the creditor to say it hadn't understood the plan.
That was my main argument. I argued to the judge that the creditor shouldn't be able to now file an objection. Although I thought the law was unclear about when an objection to the plan should be filed, I thought the creditor should be "estopped" from waiting so long to file an objection. I was also thinking this wasn't the proper time to decide the question. It was up to the creditor to ask for a hearing, and since the creditor wasn't here, the matter shouldn't be decided. Maybe the creditor would never ask for a hearing.
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