Adversary proceedings in United States Bankruptcy Court are the topic of this blog post.
An adversary proceeding is basically a lawsuit that is filed within a bankruptcy case. It is a legal action that is initiated by a plaintiff filing an adversary complaint against one or more defendants.
Adversary proceedings are fairly similar to a typical civil case that is filed in a state court. The plaintiff is the person, corporation, partnership or other entity initiating the lawsuit.
The two most commonly filed adversary proceedings are a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt under Title 11 United States Code (“U.S.C.”) Section 523(c) and a complaint to deny the Debtor a discharge under Title 11 U.S.C. Section 727.
A complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt is generally filed for one of two reasons; the debt is based on fraud or false representations, or the debt is based on a willful or malicious injury to another.
The deadline to file a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt under Title 11 U.S.C. Section 523(c) is no later than sixty (60) days after the date first set for the meeting of creditors. See Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 4007(c) (“FRBP”). If the complaint is not timely filed it is barred unless a request for extension of time is filed and is granted by the bankruptcy court before the deadline.
A complaint to deny the Debtor a discharge is not as common as it requests that the bankruptcy court deny the Debtor a discharge, if the request is granted the Debtor is denied a discharge and all of the debts listed on the bankruptcy petition are then declared non-dischargeable. This complaint is generally used when a creditor cannot file a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt because the debt is not based on any of the reasons specified in Title 11 U.S.C. Section 523.
The deadline to file a complaint to deny the Debtor a discharge under Title 11 U.S.C. Section 727 is also no later than sixty (60) days after the date first set for the meeting of creditors. See FRBP 4004(a). If the complaint is not timely filed it is barred unless a request for extension of time is filed and is granted by the bankruptcy court before the deadline.
Once the summons and complaint are filed they must be served on the defendant(s) within 120 days from the date the complaint was filed or the case will be subject to dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m).
In most cases the defendant(s) must answer the complaint within thirty (30) days after issuance of the summons unless a different date is specified by the court. See FRBP 7012(a).
If the defendant(s) do not answer the complaint by the date set forth in the summons they are in default. The Plaintiff can then obtain a default judgment for the relief requested in the complaint.
If the defendant(s) do answer the complaint then discovery is permitted pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Bankruptcy Rules specifically allow the same type of discovery in adversary proceedings as in a civil case so written interrogatories, requests for admission, and requests for production of documents may all be used in addition to depositions.
Attorneys or parties that would like more information on a Federal legal document collection containing 50 sample documents including three separate adversary complaints can use the link shown below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.