Chapter 20 Lien Stripping Goes to Circuit

Posted by NCBRC - May 8, 2013

The Ninth Circuit is poised to be the first circuit court to address the issue of whether a lien may be stripped in a “chapter 20” case where discharge is unavailable. The Western District of Washington recently found that lien stripping was not contingent upon the availability of discharge. Litton Loan v. Blendheim, No. 11-2004 (W.D. Wash. March 29, 2013). Litton Loan filed a notice of appeal on April 26, 2013.

In upholding the bankruptcy court’s finding in favor of the debtors, the district court noted “an emerging trend” in the Ninth Circuit permitting such lien stripping. See In re Tran, 321 B.R. 230, 235 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 2010); In re Hill, 440 B.R. 176, 182 (Bankr. S.D. Cal. 2010); In re Okosisi, 451 B.R. 90, 100 (Bankr. D. Nev. 2011), and found that those cases were correctly decided. It reasoned that the Supreme Court in Johnson v. Home State Bank, 501 U.S. 78 (1991), explicitly sanctioned chapter 20 cases, and nothing in the later amendments to the Bankruptcy Code imposed a discharge requirement upon the ability to strip a lien that is otherwise amenable to stripping. The court concluded that the lien would be stripped upon completion of plan payments.

The Eighth Circuit recently avoided the issue in the case of In re Fisette, 695 F.3d 803 (8th Cir. 2012), by concluding that the BAP’s order that liens may be stripped in chapter 20 was an interlocutory order not subject to appeal.

Blendheim opinion


Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.