UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
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This case disposition has no value as precedent and is not intended for publication. Any publication, either in print or electronically, is contrary to the intent and wishes of the court.
LEIF and SYDNEY SODERLING, No. 98-14751
Debtors Leif and Sydney Soderling filed a Chapter 13 petition on December 17, 1998, despite
owing criminal restitution debt of $4,835,600.12. Section 109(e) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits
debtors who owe more than $250,000.00 in noncontingent, liquidated unsecured debts from being
eligible for relief under Chapter 13. The U.S. government accordingly seeks dismissal. The Soderlings
argue that the government claim should not be counted for eligibility purposes because its enforcement
It appears to the court that Solderlings' argument has already been rejected by the Court of
Appeals. U.S. v. Soderling
, 970 F.2d. 529, 535 (9th
Cir. 1992). To the extent that the circuit decision is
for some reason not binding, such a conclusion could only be reached after extensive research,
argument, hearings, and analysis which is inappropriate in the context of determining Chapter 13
eligibility. "So long as a debt is subject to ready determination and precision in computation of the
amount due, then it is considered liquidated and included for eligibility purposes under § 109(e),
regardless of any dispute
." In re Nicholes
, 184 B.R. 82, 89 (9th
Cir.BAP 1995)(emphasis added).
The debt here at issue is neither contingent nor unliquidated, merely disputed. The only time a
statute of limitations can be raised in a dispute over Chapter 13 eligibility is when the statute of
limitations bar is either readily admitted
or can be simply
determined in the briefest of hearings
. In re
, 123 B.R. 338, 341 (9th
In this case, the government vigorously disputes that its criminal restitution claim is time-barred.
To the extent resolution is not a simple matter of applying the express wording of U.S. v. Soderling
, it is
a complex matter which involves disputed issues of law, the interplay of state and federal statutes, and
possibly examination of the conduct of the parties since the criminal proceedings. Such litigation is not
appropriate in determining eligibility under § 109(e).
For the foregoing reasons, this Chapter 13 case will be dismissed, with prejudice. The Soderlings
may not file another Chapter 13 petition until they have obtained a final judgment of a court of proper
jurisdiction establishing that their criminal restitution obligations are no longer enforceable, or the
government readily admits that fact.
Dated: March 19, 1999 ____________________________
United States Bankruptcy