Summaries of Selected Opinions, 1120 COBJ, Vol. 49, No. 10 Pg. 98

PositionVol. 49, 10 [Page 98]

49 Colo.Law. 98

Summaries of Selected Opinions

Vol. 49, No. 10 [Page 98]

Colorado Lawyer

November, 2020


No. 18-1445. McDaniel v. Navient Solutions, LLC. 8/31/2020. Bankr.D.Colo. Judge Holmes. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy—Res Judicata—Exceptions to Discharge of Debts—Student Loans.

Plaintiffs filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and the court confirmed their amended plan in 2010. In 2015 plaintiffs certified that they had met the plan's payments and obligations, and the court granted them a discharge of debts under 11 U.S.C. § 1328(a). The order did not specifically identify the debts that were discharged and stated that debts for most student loans were not discharged. Plaintiffs continued to make payments toward their student loans.

In 2017, plaintiffs moved the court to reopen their case. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint against Navient Solutions, LLC (Navient), the creditor for the student loans, seeking a declaratory judgment that their student loans were discharged in bankruptcy and damages based on collection activities in violation of 11 U.S.C. § 524(a). Navient moved to dismiss the complaint, and the court denied the motion.

On interlocutory review, Navient contended that plaintiffs' confirmed Chapter 13 plan makes it res judicata that its student loans were excepted from discharge. While a confirmed plan is res judicata, plaintiffs' confirmed Chapter 13 plan did not decide whether their student loans were excepted from discharge, so the issue is not res judicata under that plan. Therefore, plaintiffs may still litigate their claim that the loans were discharged in bankruptcy.

Navient also argued that the bankruptcy court erred in ruling that 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8)(A) (ii) does not except studentloans from discharge and, consequently, the exception does not cover plaintiffs' studentloans. Navient contended that the studentloans are non dischargeable because an educational loan constitutes "an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend" within the meaning of § 523(a)(8)(A)(ii). Section 523(a)(8)(A)(ii) excepts from discharge "an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit," unless doing so imposes undue hardship on the debtors and their dependents. The Tenth Circuit construed the statute and concluded that an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit is akin to a stipend or scholarship, as opposed to a loan of funds for education. Thus, the statutory terms "obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit" and "educational loan" mean separate things, and plaintiffs' student loans are not covered by the discharge exception set forth in § 523(a)(8)(A) (ii). Therefore, the bankruptcy court did not err.

The interlocutory order denying Navient's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' dischargeability claim was affirmed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

No. 19-6008. McCraw v. City of Oklahoma City. 8/31/2020. W.D.Okla. Judge Lucero. First Amendment—Fourteenth Amendment Due Process—City Ordinance—Use of City Medians.

Plaintiffs are a group of Oklahoma City (City) residents, a political party, and a news organization. They use City medians to panhandle, engage in protests or other expressive activity, mount political campaigns, cover the news, or have personal conversations. Oklahoma City passed a revised ordinance (ordinance) prohibiting standing, sitting, or remaining for most purposes on medians on all streets with a speed limit of 40 mph or more. The ordinance essentially prohibited pedestrians on approximately 400 of the City's 500 medians. Plaintiffs sued the City, contending that the ordinance violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to use the medians.

The district court dismissed one plaintiff's First Amendment claim and granted summary judgment to the City on the Fourteenth Amendment due process and vagueness claims. Following a bench trial, the court entered judgment against plaintiffs on all other claims.

Plaintiffs appealed the judgment. As to the First Amendment claims, to demonstrate a violation of First Amendment rights, a plaintiff must first establish that the activities in question are protected by the First Amendment. Next, the court must identify whether the challenged restrictions affect a public or nonpublic forum, which determination dictates the extent to which the government can restrict First Amendment activities. Lastly, the...

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