No Presumption of Validity of Claim under Rule 3002.1

Posted by NCBRC - August 12, 2013

On January 3, 2013, the chapter 13 trustee filed “Trustee’s Notice of Final Cure Payment and Motion to Deem Mortgage Current,” filed pursuant to Rule 3002.1(f) seeking an order that the debtor’s mortgagee was current, that all escrow deficiencies had been cured, and that all fees had been satisfied in full. The mortgage creditor filed a timely objection under Rule 3002.1(g), arguing that the debtor had incurred post-petition arrearages of $25,798.02. However, the creditor did not present any evidence of any disbursements to substantiate the arrearage. The court found that supplemental claims did not enjoy a presumption of validity and, because the debtor had made all payments required by the amended plan, it granted the trustee’s motion. In re Rodriguez, No. 08-80025 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. July 8, 2013).

Rule 3002.1(h) provides: “On motion of the debtor or trustee filed within 21 days after service of the statement under subdivision (g) of this rule, the court shall, after notice and hearing, determine whether the debtor has cured the default and paid all required postpetition amounts.” The court noted that, unlike Rule 3001(f) which grants a presumption of prima facie validity to a claim, Rule 3002.1(h) does not set forth the burden of proof. The court inferred from the absence of a presumption of prima facie validity that Congress intended for the claimant to bear the burden of proof under Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1(h).  Thus, because the creditor failed to present any evidence of disbursements, the court granted the trustee’s motion finding that the debtor cured the default, and paid all required post-petition amounts.

As an incidental matter, prior to addressing the Bankruptcy Rules, the court discussed the local court rule requiring trustees to file regular reports of mortgage plan payments. This “Mortgage Procedures” rule also imposes a deadline on creditors to file claims for charges incurred during the time period covered by the report, within 60 days of the report. The trustee failed to file the reports pursuant to this local rule. Rather, during the course of the plan, the trustee issued a “Notice of Bar Date for Asserting Claim for Post-petition Charges Accruing on Residential Mortgage Claims,” in which the creditor was put on notice that it must file a claim for charges that accrued between July, 2008, and August, 2011, within 60 days of receipt of the notice. The creditor did not file a claim pursuant to this notice, but, in June and July of 2012, filed two claims for charges accrued during the period covered by the notice. Addressing the impact of the trustee’s failure to follow the local rule, the court distinguished In re Wagner, 2011 WL 2636841 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2011), which held that the trustee’s failure to file the requisite reports relieved the creditor of the claim-filing time limit. The court found that the trustee’s “Notice of Bar Date,” served the purpose of providing notice to the creditor of the need to file a timely claim. Ultimately, however, the case turned on the creditor’s failure to sustain its burden of proof under the Bankruptcy Rules, rather than the untimeliness of its attempt to file claims during the course of the plan.

Rodriguez opinion


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