Objections to Claims Must have a Factual or Legal Basis; Merely Alleging Non-compliance with FRBP 3001 is Not Sufficient

Objections to Claims Must have a Factual or Legal Basis; Merely Alleging Non-compliance with FRBP 3001 is Not Sufficient

This chapter 13 case was commenced on March 6, 2013. Ten objections to claims have recently been filed.

The motivation for these objections so long after the petition date is that, although the debtors’ confirmed chapter 13 Plan  provides for a 0% dividend, one debtor has died and the surviving debtor has listed his house for sale and anticipates paying all creditors 100% of their claims.

The debtor’s principal argument is that the credit card claims against him are time barred by California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) § 337(2). Under that statute the limitations period is four years from “the date of the last item” – i.e., the last payment or charge. CCP § 337, para. 2 & § 337a.

Under section 108(c) of the Bankruptcy Code, if the limitations period has not expired as of the petition date then it is extended until 30 days after “notice of termination or expiration” of the automatic stay (or, if longer, the end of the limitations period). 11 U.S.C. § 108(c). Therefore the issue is whether the last payment or charge occurred on or after March 6, 2009 (four years prior to the petition date).

The subject claims do not appear on their face to be time barred. For example, Claim 5-1 includes a “Statement of Accounts” specifying that the “Last Payment Date” was “09/12/2009,” which is within the four year limitations period. Claim 5-1 at PDF p. 3. Nevertheless, the debtor suggests that the claim might be time barred, and that the burden is on the claimant to show otherwise. He declares:

I have reviewed my records and I do not believe that any payments were made on this account within the four years prior to the filing of this case. The claim alleges that the last payment on the account was on September 12, 2009, but does not provide any evidence of this last payment. [Dkt. 58, p. 8:15-16 (emphasis added).]

The debtor asserts that not only is there insufficient evidence of a lack of time bar, but that there is insufficient evidence of any debt at all:

[The claimant] fails to provide any evidence that the debt is owed by Debtor … (no statements, contracts, or charge receipts). [Dkt. 58, pp. 2:1 and3:9-10 (emphasis added).]

Later in the same document the debtor concedes that the proof of claim does include some evidence, namely the Statement of Accounts. But he asserts that this is “virtually no evidence” in support of the claim.

The debtor argues that there is “insufficient evidence of assignments” of claim seven.  This appears to be an objection that the claimant, eCAST Settlement Corporation (“eCAST”) lacks standing (it could also be an objection that eCAST is not the real party in interest, and the following discussion would apply equally to that issue). See generally In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897 (9th Cir. BAP 2011) (explaining the “standing” and “real party in interest” concepts).

Before addressing the merits of the debtor’s arguments, eCAST argues that the debtor’s delay in objecting to the claim, both in this case and in a prior bankruptcycase, amounts to almost seven years. This delay might be prejudicial, according to eCAST, because relevant “documentation may no longer be available.”  Although this argument raises interesting issues, it is mooted by the discussion below because the debtor’s objection is overruled on other grounds.

Responding to the debtor’s apparent challenge to its standing, eCAST argues that its proof of claim is not required to provide evidence of standing under Rule 3001 (Fed. R. Bankr. P.).

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