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JENKINS v. WARD, NO. 14-1385

Decided: April 27, 2015

The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s decision to deny dismissal of a trustee’s complaint because the trustee’s complaint was filed sixty-nine days after the creditors’ meeting, as opposed to the statutory limit of sixty days.

In 2012, Jenkins filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief.  A creditors’ meeting was held on July 19 to discuss Jenkins’ financial affairs.  During a meeting, the trustee stated that she was “not going to conclude the meeting today.”  However, no notice of a continued meeting was ever filed and the meeting never reconvened.  The trustee filed a complaint objecting to Jenkins discharge due to Jenkins’ “general lack of cooperation” throughout the process.

As outlined in Bankruptcy Rule 4004(a), the trustee had to make the objection within sixty days after the meeting, but he didn’t object until sixty-nine days after.  Thus, the trustee’s objection to discharge was not timely.  Although trustee attempted to adjourn the creditors’ meeting on July 19, 2012, he failed to announce the date and time of the adjournment meeting or to file a statement thereafter containing that information.  Rule 2003(a) unequivocally requires these acts to effectuate an adjournment; therefore, the meeting was never adjourned and was actually concluded.  Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit dismissed trustee’s complaint because trustee didn’t properly adjourn the meeting, which means that the meeting ended on July 19, and therefore, trustee’s complaint was made sixty-nine days after the meeting.  Based on the foregoing, the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded.

Full Opinion

Chris Toner