In In re: John Shart and Elke Gordon Shardt, an unpublished decision by the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) for the Ninth Circuit, the BAP affirmed the bankruptcy court’s ruling that chapter 7 co-debtor’s spouse did not directly engage in fraudulent conduct, but remanded the action back to bankruptcy court for consideration and findings as to whether the co-debtor spouse had a partnership or agency relationship with her co-debtor husband such that his fraudulent behavior should be imputed to her for purposes of exception to discharge under §523(a)(2)(4).
Factual Background and Procedural History
Husband entered into various real and personal property transactions with creditors with whom the husband had a personal and business relationship. Creditors sued husband, his wife, and husband’s business in state court.
Husband and wife then filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was converted to a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Creditors filed an adversary proceeding against the husband and wife debtors alleging the debtors: a) made misrepresentations to creditors with the intent to deceive them, b) had engaged in fraud or defalcations as fiduciaries, and c) willfully, maliciously and intentionally injured the creditors and converted their property. The creditors argued that the resulting debt should therefore be excepted from discharge under §523(a)(2)(A), §523(a)(4) and §523 (a)(6). Debtors filed an answer denying the allegations.
The bankruptcy court entered a judgment in favor of creditors against husband and declared that creditors’ claims against wife were discharged. A timely appeal was filed by creditors on September 27, 2012, challenging the part of the judgment holding that the claims against wife were not excepted from discharge.
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