United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
DAVID FINDLING, in his Capacity as State-Court Appointed Receiver, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DAVID W. THURSFIELD, and LINDA J. THURSFIELD, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT UNITED
STATES' MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 12] AND GRANTING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AUTHORITY TO DEPOSIT FUNDS [DOC.
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on defendant United States'
motion to dismiss and plaintiff Receiver David Findling's
motion for approval of bond or to deposit funds with the
court. The court held an in-chambers conference with the
parties on March 26, 2018, during which time all parties
informed the court they would waive oral argument on the
motions and rely on the arguments in their briefs.
April 16, 2005, a Judgment of Divorce was entered by the
Oakland County Circuit Court between David Thursfield
(“David”) and his former wife, Linda Thursfield
(“Linda”). A property Settlement Agreement
divided the parties' marital property. David has more
than one retirement benefit plan through his former
employment with Ford Motor Company. One is qualified under
the Employment Retirement Income Security Act
(“ERISA”) (the “Qualified Plan”) and
another one is not qualified under ERISA (the
“Non-Qualified Plan”). The Settlement Agreement
provided that both retirement plans were to be divided
between the parties equally.
January 15, 2015, David was in default of the Judgment of
Divorce and the Circuit Court appointed David Findling as
Receiver. David and Linda entered into a Settlement Agreement
on August 4, 2015 which was incorporated and merged into
their Judgment of Divorce. The Settlement Agreement provided
that Linda receive David's 50% interest in the Qualified
and Non-Qualified Plans effective May 1, 2015. This meant
that Linda now received 100% of David's Ford U.S.
Pension. David retained his Ford U.K. Pension. In addition,
Linda was awarded a Money Judgment for $4, 118, 911.89 and
was entitled to a lien.
interest in the Non-Qualified Plan could not be divided by a
qualified domestic relations order. Therefore, 100% of the
monthly payments from the Non-Qualified Plan (“Pension
Payment”) are remitted to the Receiver. From February
2016 to April 2017, each Pension Payment was collected by the
Receiver and in turn remitted to Linda.
April 4, 2017, the United States served a Notice of Levy
(“2017 Levy”) on the Receiver for tax liability
owed by David. IRS Officer Teresita Lopez told the Receiver a
Notice of Federal Tax Lien (“NFTL”) had been
perfected against David in the amount of $146, 075.99 for his
2009 taxes. Because David resided in Spain, the NFTL was
recorded in the District of Columbia on May 25, 2016.
the Money Judgment was entered in 2015, Linda recorded a
UCC-1 in Oakland County, Michigan to perfect her lien
(“Linda's Lien”). When Linda's lawyers
learned of the NFTL, Linda re-recorded her UCC-1 in the
District of Columbia on June 1, 2017. Thereafter, the United
States recorded a second NFTL on August 18, 2017.
September 26, 2017, the Receiver wrote a letter to Officer
Lopez outlining numerous issues:
- The Receiver's personal liability under 31 USC
- Whether the Receiver was required to marshal David's
Ford U.K. Pension under the marshaling doctrine;
- The necessity of releasing the Receiver from liability due
to both the obligations under the 2017 Levy and the NFTL
should he remit payment to Linda;
- Whether the Pension payments from the Non-Qualified Plan
are property of David or Linda; and
- Does the United States have lien priority over Linda and if
so is it for $146, ...