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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Bankruptcy Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 1975
Experience:  Twelve years experience in all aspects of debtor & creditor BK.
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Hi Terry, I am planning to file Chapter 7 BK this month. One

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Hi Terry, I am planning to file Chapter 7 BK this month. One of my credit card companies lawyer wants to add 'sanctions' of about $1,000 because I didn't respond to his interrogation in time. My question is, If I file BK chapter 7 will that take care of any sanctions to the lawyer, how would I list them on my BK, as a separate debt owed to the lawyer? Can a warrant be issued if I fail to pay a sanction within the 10 days?
Thank you for your question.

Dischargeability of a debt in Chapter 7 can be successfully challenged IF the debt arose from the Debtor's "willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity". By named category, this includes drunk or drugged driving compensation to victims, failure to pay child support, and failure to pay alimony (now called "spousal support"). By court decisions going back a long way, it also includes most punitive damages awards. The part of the BK Code dealing with this is § 523(a)(6).

Whether a court-imposed sanction for failure to respond to discovery requests falls into the non-dischargeable category most likely depends on the language of the court order imposing the sanctions.

Even then, debts listed on the schedules usually DO get discharged UNLESS the creditor successfully challenges them with an "adversary action" to determine the dischargeability of the debt. If the creditor does not complain and win, then the debt gets discharged. BUT if the creditor prevails at trial in the BK court adversary case, then the debt will survive the bankruptcy. So, attorneys for BK debtors just follow the rules, list all debts, and let the creditor(s) decide whether to challenge dischargeability. The creditors have a firm deadline to object, too, so there is no real suspense for the whole statute of limitations period like there would be without a BK filing.

The landmark case on this portion of the BK discharge rules is Kawaauhau v. Geiger, 118 S.Ct. 974, 523 U.S. 57 (1998). You might want to research how your Circuit has interpreted that case in the 12+years since it came down.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am filling BK pro se. I am my without a BK attorney. I would have to defend myself on the matter of debt dischargeability if it came to that.


If I did fail to pay a sanction that was ordered by the court in ten days, is that something that the court would issue a warrant over? Do I have to worry about how soon that I file BK?


Thank You, Tom

Bench warrants generally don't get issued for failures to pay financial sanctions.

They are often issued for failure to appear.

*Usually*, the next step after failing to obey any court order is an "order to show cause" hearing, where the disobedient one is given a chance to answer or "show cause" why they should not be held in contempt. The penalty for contempt can include brief incarceration as well as monetary sanctions.

We can't give legal advice here, but I'd be worried about all of those things. One usually reliable defense to contempt charges is an honest inability to obey the order--but that would have been best done at the hearing where the sanctions were imposed.

I must recommend professional legal advice, as you are now swimming in very deep waters. Spending some quality time with the Mitchie's Civil Practice Guides specific to California for the civil case, AND for bankruptcy litigation, is likely to be a very, very poor substitute without the 3 years of legal education usually needed to interpret those guidebooks.

Thank you.

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