Debtor has Standing to Move to Avoid Statutory Lien

Posted by NCBRC - November 15, 2013

A debtor has standing under section 522(h) to bring an action to avoid a statutory lien under section 545(2). In In re McCarthy, No. 13-6042 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. Oct. 28, 2013), the debtor filed an adversary proceeding seeking to avoid an attorney fee statutory lien as impairing his homestead exemption under Minnesota law. The bankruptcy court dismissed the proceeding on the basis that, under section 545(2), the debtor “lacks the authority and ability to exercise the strong-arm powers of the trustee to defeat a statutory lien.” The BAP found that, while section 545 does provide that the “trustee may avoid the fixing of a statutory lien on property of the debtor,” the bankruptcy court’s inquiry should not have stopped there. Section 522(h), in conjunction with section 522(g)(1), provides an avenue for the debtor to avoid a lien that is avoidable by the trustee under section 545. Under these sections the BAP set forth five requirements that must be met to allow a debtor to avoid a statutory lien: “(1) the debtor’s transfer of property must have been involuntary; [§ 522(g)(1)(A)] (2) the debtor must not have concealed the property [§ 522(g)(1)(B)]; (3) the trustee must not have attempted to avoid the transfer [§ 522(h)(2)]; (4) the debtor must seek to exercise an avoidance power enumerated under § 522(h); and (5) the transferred property must be such that it could have been exempted if the trustee had avoided the transfer under the provisions of § 522(g) [§ 522(h)(1)].” Finding that section 522 gives the debtor the power to avoid the statutory lien, despite section 545’s limitation to the trustee, the court reversed and remanded to allow the bankruptcy court to address the merits of the debtor’s lien avoidance action.

McCarthy opinion


Tags: ,

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.