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In re Burke

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 14, 2017

In re: Philip Craig Burke; Nekolia Swope Burke, Debtors.
v.
Philip Craig Burke; Nekolia Swope Burke, Appellees. Richard P. Jahn, Jr., Trustee, Appellant,

          Argued: June 13, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee of Chattanooga. No. 1:15-cv-00246-Travis R. McDonough, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Richard P. Jahn, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          W. Thomas Bible, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellees.

         ON BRIEF:

          Richard P. Jahn, Jr., Nancy A. Cogar, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          W. Thomas Bible, Jr., William P. Glascock, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellees.

          Tara Twomey, NATIONAL CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY RIGHTS CENTER, San Jose, California, for Amicus Curiae.

          Before: MOORE, GILMAN, and COOK, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          RONALD LEE GILMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Philip C. and Nekolia S. Burke encountered financial distress during the "Great Recession" that began in 2008. Unable to pay their debts, they filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy seven years later. Richard P. Jahn Jr., as bankruptcy trustee of the Burkes' estate, sought to evict the Burkes from their residence in order to make the property easier to sell for the benefit of their creditors. In response, the Burkes moved to compel the trustee to abandon the property based on their contention that the fair market value of the residence, less the balance due on the mortgage loan, left no net equity for the estate. The bankruptcy court agreed that the net value of the residence was inconsequential from the viewpoint of the unsecured creditors. It therefore granted the motion to compel abandonment. The district court concurred. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Burkes filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code in February 2015. In their bankruptcy schedules, the Burkes listed their residence in Chattanooga, Tennessee as being ...


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